Thursday, September 30, 2010

In search of lasting farming solutions to climate change

Isaiah Esipisu in IPS: In the semi-arid Laikipia district of Kenya’s Rift Valley province, research scientist Sarah Ogalleh Ayeri travels from one village to another, documenting methods used by peasant farmers as they attempt to adapt to changing climatic conditions.

...She is a research scientist at the Centre for Training and Integrated Research for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Development and her study is titled "Lessons from Farmers: localised adaptations in agriculture as building blocks to climate change adaptation in Laikipia district." She said it was important that new adaptation methods be localised, then evaluated and tested before they are released for use by local farmers. In many cases farmers were introduced to new technologies that they failed to sustain in the long run.

… "It becomes very difficult for the farmers to adapt to completely new adaptation technologies. They might look lucrative at the time of introduction, but evidence has shown that most of them cannot easily be sustained locally," said Ayeri. She said that before introducing any climate change adaptation measures to any community of smallholder farmers, some key issues must be considered.

"We must first understand the preferred local adaptation strategies. But most importantly, we must know how farmers perceive climate change, how they link their existent adaptations to the phenomenon, and how these existent adaptations can be improved to be more effective, efficient and sustainable," explained Ayeri.

Examples of such methods include the introduction of high-yielding hybrid maize varieties, which have failed to survive without adequate farm inputs like fertilisers, and genetically improved dairy cattle that have been proven to be highly susceptible to harsh climatic conditions and diseases.

…The May 2010 United Nations’ conference in Nairobi, which aimed to provide advice relating to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, acknowledged the importance of reverting to the indigenous knowledge in African farming as an appropriate adaptation measure. "At the moment climate change is the most important phenomenon to watch because studies have shown that it perpetuates nearly all the other challenges," she said….

Laikipia's Mount Kenya flag

1 comment:

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