Kenya is no stranger to adaptation when it comes to food production. Kenya’s cultural and political underpinnings are reliant upon adaptation to current climatic conditions. Present predictions are that drastic adaptation will be necessary once again. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), climate change is likely to threaten maize production for farmers in certain areas of Kenya. Conversely, other arable landmasses that have been less suited to maize production are likely to become better suited to this important crop forcing agricultural officials and farmers to reassess their farmland use and suitability.
Their report, released this week, offers tremendous optimism despite the impending climate change, citing a potential to actually thrive if farmers are provided with the right tools. According to the report, “Kenyan farmers make up 75 percent of the country’s labor force but have a ‘low adaptive capacity’ due to limited economic resources, heavy reliance on rainfed agriculture, frequent droughts and floods, and general poverty. But they believe that given the right direction, support, services, and policies now, along with more options in what and where they grow, Kenya can make a major transformation in its ability to cope with the changing climate.” Timothy Thomas, a research fellow at IFPRI and co-author of the analysis says, “Climate predictions for Kenya’s most important crop, for example, tell us where maize farmers may need to shift to other crops, where they might need to introduce drought-resistant varieties, and even new areas where maize can grow.”
These shifting weather patterns and demographics are likely to alter farming and food security in Kenya between now and 2050. These shifts will establish the framework for discussion in Kenya’s National Adaptation Planning (NAP) conference that gets underway today in Naivasha. This will likely be the first in a series of collaborative discussions pertaining to agriculture and environment concerns to proactively deal with food production challenges and opportunities presented by climate change. According to Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), it is attracting representatives from government, farmer organizations, research institutes, agriculture-oriented industries, and civil society groups who are seeking consensus on agriculture-related actions to be included in Kenya’s National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP).
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Article by Robin Valinkski, appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.