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Huruma farmers dealing with effects of climate change

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Climate change is currently affecting the Agricultural sector in the country in a big way, the fluctuating weather patterns are becoming a real pain to dedicated farmers who mainly depend on rain fed agriculture to make a living. This weather patterns is negatively affecting crops which depend on rain hence leading to farmers counting losses.

Temperatures are continuing to rise while rainfall patterns are shifting rapidly. This is definitely affecting the farm yields which are continuously declining and hence endangering the country’s food basket.

And although African farmers are for long exposed to higher temperatures and even unpredictable weather than those farmers in the developed countries who now are well versed on how to cope or adapt to climate change by either embracing irrigation, adjust whatever they supposed to plant and other vital agricultural technologies, the African farmers who are currently disadvantaged are also now being trained on the said technologies in order to adapt to global warming.

In fact Kenyan farmers are now no longer waiting for rainfall in order to plant their crops this is in their quest to make the country food secure as stated in the Jubilee government big 4 agenda.

Meet Ken Odunye from Huruma Youth group who has practiced farming for over 12 years now. According to him farming has really changed in that it is no longer the same. With the unpredictable weather patterns he says they had to pull up their socks and find better ways to survive in the city.

“Si ni wakulima , tunajivunia kuwa wakulima,….ni kitu tunafanya passionately despite challenges tunapitia..unajua ni lazima ukule kila wakati…tumbo hainanga adabu inaitishanga saa yote..tunachampion mambo ya food security hapa mtaani ..unajua hii ni gap kubwa tumewachia gava…na gava haiwezi peke yake. Farming is a passion, even though we going through a lot of challenges… we doing everything possible to contribute to the country’s food basket,” said Kelvin Odunye from Huruma Town youth group.

He says the unpredictable weather had led to changing of the rainfall patterns with now long rainy seasons becoming shorter and dry while the short rainy seasons becoming longer. He alleges that the yearly rainfall is currently low with long rains declining in recent decades

This he intimates has also affected the distribution of water in Nairobi as compared to years back in that currently water rationing has taken center stage hence negatively affecting farming in the city.

“Sisi kama kikundi tuliamua kufanya ukulima hapa mtaani …utashangaa kwa nini tunafanyia hapa shamba la mawe..tunafanyia hapa kwa sababu tunatry kutumia zile technologies tumefunzwa through Ministry of Agriculture na other NGO’s wenye wametuengage fully kuweza kuadopt the new agricultural technologies kama multi storeys,Hanging gardens, moist gardens zenye hazitumii space kubwa na hazihitaji maji mob. You might wonder why we opted to farm here in Nairobi you know we are doing so through the help of the Ministry of Agriculture officials who are educating us on the latest farming methods to beat climate change,” he added.

He also decried the lack of trees in the city and the rise of tall buildings which he says have increased the heat absorption, making matters worse is the unchecked growing population and poorly planned densely populated settlements.

“Since time hii tunaexperience climate change, maji imekuwa nadra sana , mvua hainyeshi vile tulikuwa tunatarajia , si kama kitambo ungeangalia weather, sahi lazima ucheze tu na rada yako. sisi tumekuwa tukipanda tu manyumba hapa nairobi, sisi tunaangalia tu mifuko zetu, hatuangalii kesho watoi watakula nini , so unapata badala kupanda place inafaa kupandwa mboga ni manyumba tunapanda na ndio hii tunalipia through climate change. In the past we used to depend on the weather before we plant our crops, but due to climate change we can’t do that anymore,” he said.

Huruma Town youth group which farms indigenous vegetables like Managu, Terere,Nderema,Spinach and even fruit trees prides itself for being able to reach this far despite being faced by climate change.

The group has embraced Agricultural technologies that have helped them to save land to practice agriculture and also use little water in there farming business and at the same time much yields through advanced agricultural technologies in order to adapt to climate change.

On his part Peter Ndungu from Kingstone Youth group alleges that the current rising temperatures are really affecting crops hence contributing to losses. He says water is a big factor in farming but sadly the lack of rain or even the continuing shortage of water in Nairobi is impacting them hard.

“Na hii jua inawaka sahii hata huwezi kaa kwa hao na amani sasa imagine zile mimea ziko huko nje zinafeel aje na maji sahii hakuna, huku mtaani maji inakuja Friday na Sunday tu… na imagine mimea inahitaji maji mob. The high temperatures we currently experiencing is making it difficult for us to stay indoors…you can just imagine how this is affecting plants,” said Peter Ndungu from Kingstone youth group.

“Unajua Agricuture ni agenda 4 lakini bado kuifeel kabisa ..coz modern technologies zingine hatujui bado,” he added.

This he says affects the selling price of the vegetables they sale as they have to factor in the capital they injected in growing the vegetables.

Nairobi County did pass the Urban Agriculture Promotion and Regulation act 2015 which now instructs the authorities to provide water and even land for food production in informal settlements. This type of law has created a good environment for the practice of urban agriculture.

In April 2019, the Meteorological department warned that Kenya was likely to suffer from worsening food shortages and even water scarcity due to the decrease of rain in the country. The March –May long rains season had fallen far below the average in that said period.

“Based on the current conditions and the prolonged weather conditions, the dry conditions are expected to dominate most parts of the country leading to further deterioration of food security and water resource,” Stella Aura, Director of the Kenya meteorological department said.

This was equally emphasized in August 2021.

Kenyans currently facing starvation due to drought have increased to 2.8 million from 2.1 people in August 2021, this is according to the National Drought Management Authority which said that the food situation in the country had deteriorated this the authority said was due to the failed October November and December short rains.

“We are experiencing firsthand the impact of climate change. there is a very direct impact of climate change on agriculture in this country and I think where we are right now the government working very closely with the private sector and development partners must put their focus on helping communities to adapt to the impact of climate change because the impact is there,” Steve Ogutu, Country coordinator, Movement for Community led Development MCLD Kenya said.

“There is need for the government to introduce policies that support financing of climate change actions even at the community level because that is where the impact is felt the most,” he added.

In 2020, the Water services Trust fund said the country needed 500 billion shillings in five years to reduce the impact of water shortage. The funds CEO Ismael Fahmy M Shaiye said the country’s water availability was expected to drop from the 647 cubic meters to 235 cubic meters and this was due to the low funding and effects of climate change.

“We have a huge gap in financing the water sector in Kenya you cannot leave it only to the government, our budget for example for this year is 62 billion shillings through grants and loans from partners but that said we still have a gap of about 100 billion shillings,” He revealed.

BY WEMA TOYWA   #WEMA’STAKE

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