Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kenyan farmers adapt to climate change but investments needed

Africa Science News: Kenya’s smallholder farmers are taking steps to adapt to climate change but key investments could help reduce the threat to food security and economic development posed by increasingly variable and severe weather, new research led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) says.

According to a survey carried out in 2009 and 2010 by IFPRI, KARI, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and the University of Georgia with funding from the World Bank, almost half of all farm households listed irrigation as the most desired adaptive measure, followed by planting trees (39%). They identified the lack of money, credit, and access to water as major obstacles to improved adaptation.

Researchers surveyed 710 farm households in seven sites spanning temperate, humid, arid, and semi-arid agroecological zones. More than eight in ten farm households say they have been struck by drought at least once in the past five years. Drought is the key climate-related shock. Researchers expect the frequency to increase even more, possibly causing irreversible decreases in livestock numbers in some regions.

"Climate change has and will increasingly affect agricultural livelihoods and food security in Kenya, making adaptation essential," said Barrack Okoba, national research coordinator for soil and water management at KARI. "This research can support the development of better programs and policies to assist farmers in adapting to global warming."…

A 28-member farming group in Machakos, Kenya farms a 4-acre plot where they grow oranges, avocado, vegetables, maize. Shot by McKay Savage, Women from the Mbini Self-Help Group showing off the fields,Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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