Kilifi County government has released a new advisory to farmers to plant alternative crops after maize failed to germinate in most parts of Kilifi due to poor distribution of rain.
According to information from the meteorological department, the county expected good rains between March and May but they recorded depressed rains in March, April and below normal rains in May when the county expected the peak of the season therefore calling the county for urgent need for revised advisories.
The County Director for Disaster Management Unit Joshua Malingi said that based on the meteorological report they will still receive small rains and may completely stop in the next two months.
“It is important for Kilifi people to know that the usual maize farming may not help them because maize need more rains but according to the situation, I would advise farmers to plant crops that are drought tolerant, like peas which take short time,” he said shortly after a special County Steering Group (CSG) meeting at Red Cross Kenya offices in Kilifi.
A message from the County Coordinator National Drought Management Authority Adam Kheri also insisted on taking heed of the new advisory since the rain season is already elapsing.
“We would like to urge the farmers to sow seeds that mature early. This will help even if we don’t receive much rain, they will still get a good harvest,” he said after the advisory release to the media.
Kheri also urged the meteorology department to closely monitor the weather progress because there are frequent changes that affect farmers’ timings.
Director of Meteorological Kilifi County Ramadhan Munga expressed his hope that crop farmers can still utilize the remaining rains to grow some of the food crops.
“We are expecting the rain season to end by July 2, therefore, to the farmers they still have enough time to plant crops based on the advisories given by the agriculture field officers,” Munga said when addressing the media at the Information Office in Kilifi.
According to Munga, the rain season started on April 1 but was disrupted by a cyclone which had developed along the Madagascar channel hence sacking the moisture which was to bring rain to our region.
“The cyclone died and what we are expecting is that the rains will continue and it will be good and average. We still expect this month to be the peak of the rain season,” he added.
County Coordinator Red Cross Kenya Cornel Ndombi disclosed that they are well prepared to handle the after effects of the season including hunger, floods and outbreak of diseases but urged residents to take cautions before calamities befell on them.
“Let people use this remaining small opportunity to harvest enough water and also plant appropriate seeds recommended by the agriculture department which take short time to mature so that after this season people may not lack food,” Ndombi said after the CSG meeting.
Farmers in many parts of Kilifi County are re-planting their farms after the early planted maize either failed to germinate or germinated but dried up later due to delayed rains and moisture stress. If this season fails, Kilifi residents may face hunger calamity again in the near future.
By Jackson Msanzu