Farmers in Nyeri have been advised to begin preparing their lands for the planting season, even as the weatherman warns of below average rains during the March-April-May long rains period.
The Meteorological Department released the seasonal forecast of the March to May long rains, that show that much of the country will receive below-average rainfall.
The Director of the Meteorological Department, David Gikungu, also announced that rains will start in the third week of this month, paving the way for farmers to start planting.
The Lake Victoria Basin, Highlands West of Rift Valley, Central Rift, Nairobi, Coastal region and Narok, are among areas that will receive below average rains.
“Below-average rainfall is expected over the Lake Victoria Basin, Highlands West of the Rift Valley, Central Rift Valley, Highlands East of the Rift Valley including Nairobi County, Coastal region, most of North-eastern and South-eastern Lowlands and Western parts of Narok, ” said Gikungu.
Gikungu added that most areas will have a largely poor distribution of rainfall in both time and space.
“The season is expected to experience a normal to delayed onset with poor distribution characterized by long dry spells over the areas expected to receive below average rainfall as well as in the ASAL region,” he said during a press conference in Nairobi.
The Highlands East of the Rift Valley that include the counties of Nairobi, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Kiambu, Embu, Meru, Tharaka Nithi and eastern parts of Laikipia are expected to receive rainfall that is likely to be below the long-term average amounts for the season.
But Nyeri County Director of Meteorological Services, John Muiruri, has advised farmers to take advantage of the rains (that began yesterday) by preparing their land in order to maximize the limited downpour expected during these this season.
He warned farmers against going back to the practice of planting slow maturing crop varieties to avoid losing their entire yield as has happened in the last five seasons of failed rains and come up with fast maturing crop varieties that are resilient to adverse effects of climate change.
“We are advising our farmers to start preparing their land in readiness for planting by the middle of this month when we expect the rains to fall in earnest. And this preparation involves going for fast maturing crops that will withstand the depressed rains that will come to an end sometimes in May. Right now, what we are experiencing are initial showers but rains are actually expected to fall in mid-March to May,” he told KNA.
The Official has however warned farmers against rushing to plant their farms immediately, but wait until mid-March to avoid the possibility of their crops withering out.
Kenya has been battling her worst drought in over four decades, owing to worsening ecological changes blamed on Climate Change.
In the wake of five failed rainy seasons, close to 2.5 million animals have died and at least five million Kenyans are currently reported to be in urgent need of food relief.
Major rivers have continued to dry up in droves as key water catchment areas continue to shrink leading to communal conflicts over water.
In 2021, the World Food Program (WFP) had estimated that four consecutive failed seasons in the country had resulted in close to 2.4 million livestock deaths, dried-out water sources and sharply reduced harvests.
The number of people in urgent need of food assistance had by then risen five-fold; from 739,000 in August 2020 to 3.5 million in June 2022.
By Samuel Maina