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County hosts Agricultural exhibition to brace farmers for hard times

Chilling  predictions scientists warned would result from adverse climate changes in the world are right with us: loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves.

Indeed Scientists caution that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases thanks to accelerated human activities.

The  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

This is according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) lab website produced by the Earth Science Communication team.

“Taken as a whole,” the IPCC states, “the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.”

These horrifying realities will to say the least drastically affect rain patterns, disrupt weather patterns and lead to dwindling yields as more and more regions that were erstwhile bread baskets slowly turn to baking ovens.

Kenya, is very vulnerable to climate change with current projections suggesting that its temperature will rise up by 2.5ºC in the near future while rainfall will become more intense and less predictable.

Even the slightest increase in frequency of droughts will present major challenges for food security and water availability, especially in Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs).

Other parts of the country, most notably in Eastern province, are also vulnerable to climate change due to increasing extreme events (droughts and floods).

And it is for this reason the ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation decided to hold an exhibition at Wamunyu Ward in Mwala Sub-County last week to forewarn residents of the inevitable challenges.

The fair was sponsored by among others Kenya Cereal Enhancement programme-Climate Resilient Agricultural Livelihood, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Adaption for smallholders’ Agricultural programme (ASAP).

The aim of the one day event was to educate small-scale famers on high end farming practices to help them confront the adverse effects of rapidly changing weather patterns.

Various organizations and agrochemical companies were present to educate famers on best farming practices ahead of the current short rains.

Among companies present included Agriseedco Limited, Pioneer seed maize, Kenya Agro, Dryland seeds, Continental seeds, Kenya Biologies, Utooni Development org and Farmers Agri-business Solutions.

Simon Kiio a salesperson with Dry Land Seeds said farmers need to be educated on the right seeds to plant depending on the rainfall patterns of a particular region.

He said unless this knowledge is inculcated to the locals, the country will be ill prepared to confront the ghosts of climate change. “We need to educate famers on best farming practices and the kind of seeds depending on the ecological characteristics of an area. We are educating our farmers on what seed variety can do well in areas that receive minimal amount of rainfall like in the Ukambani region which has a poor rainfall distribution pattern. This way, farmers can be assured of better yields regardless of changing climate patterns,” he said.

Pioneer Seeds Company used the occasion to launch its new P2859W maize seed variety takes three months to attain full maturity.

According to Mercy Mutheu who is the company’s sales officer, the fast maturing seed is ideal for Machakos due to its frequent dry spells.

Furthermore, she pointed out, the farmer is assured of a bumper harvest compared to traditional seed varieties.

“This maize variety takes less time to mature, has a high yield and do well under our region’s climate thus suiting our famers. It’s the most preferable maize seed to our famers. The maize stalk remains green throughout and the crop is usually ready after three months,” said Mutheu.

In  April this year, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Country leader in charge of Inclusive Value Chains, Tito Arunga while attending a similar trade fair in Machakos town called on both the national and county governments to encourage farmers to embrace smart farming in order to cushion the country against the threat of climate change.

He said Kenya still remains a food insecure county and as such every effort should be made to mitigate against undesirable effects emanating from climate change.

“As the world is confronted with the reality of climate change, our farmers should be encouraged to embrace smart agriculture. Farmers should make sure that they utilize the little rain we receive by undertaking agricultural husbandry practices,” urged the official.

And for those who attended the event, the gains were more than they expected.

For  instance Phoebe Nthenya, a small scale farmer from Wamunyu hailed the initiative terming it a windfall at the right time.

She  told the press she had gained much insight during the forum and was ready to go in implementing the same in her farm.

“I thank the organizers of this event for educating local famers of this region. We have acquired a lot that will help us increase production in our farms,” she said at the close of the event.

While making his closing remarks, the Machakos County Agricultural Livestock and Fisheries Chief Officer, Luka  Kioko termed the exercise an overall success.

He further announced that the event will henceforth be held once a year and urged farmers to take advantage of the farm inputs at the exhibition to help boost food production.

“As a government we are grateful for the efforts that were undertaken in organizing this event. Going forward we wish to announce the exhibition will be from now on be running once in a year to help boost our efforts in attaining food security,” he assured participants.

By  Samuel Maina/Silvester Mutinda

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