Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Growing peas and greens to maximise water usage in Kenya

Miriam Gathigah in IPS: Amid warnings that Kenya’s agricultural water use is surpassing sustainable levels and adversely affecting food security, biodiversity researchers say that agrobiodiversity should be considered as a vital tool to combat this.

“In order to feed the nation, the country must explore agrobiodiversity, specifically (the growing of) vegetables and fruits, which have been neglected in favour of maize,” Mary Abukutsa-Onyango, a professor of horticulture at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, told IPS.

As climate change continues to wreak havoc on rainfall patterns, resulting in intermittent prolonged dry spells across this East African nation, vegetables present the best alternative to maize because they do not require large amounts of water.

The 2012/2013 Kenya country brief by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations stated that the “October to December ‘short-rains’ season performed poorly … (and) a series of dry spells also caused poor germination … leading to wilting and drying out of crops.”

According to the United States Agency for International Development Kenya, this nation is “classified among the most water scarce countries in the world.” And government statistics indicate that 13 million Kenyans lack access to improved water supply.

“In Kenya, and by extension Africa, desertification and water scarcity are a major threat to agriculture and to pastoralist communities. Strategies such as irrigation, water harvesting and conservation, and tree planting must be revamped,” Nashon Tado, of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Horn of Africa and Yemen office, told IPS....

Watering livestock in Kenya, USAID photo

No comments: