Missing March-May Long Rains, What Next for Agricultural Sector?

By Jane Muia / Published April 12, 2022 | 3:55 pm




KEY POINTS

Provided that 98 percent of the country's agriculture is rain-fed, the situation is likely to attract considerable losses to farmers who had already planted as the short rains would affect seed germination, which will lead to low yield.  


long rain

KEY TAKEAWAYS


The agricultural sector is the backbone of Kenya's economy, contributing approximately 33 percent of Kenya's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It employs more than 40 percent of the total population and 70 percent of the rural population.


As the planting season is underway, farmers are bracing for tough times as economic conditions and delayed rains adversely affect the viability of agribusiness.

In some parts of the country, the long rains in Kenya are usually expected to start in March and continue until June.

According to the March-May 2022 weather outlook released last month by the Kenya Meteorological Department, the peak of the rains would be in April for most regions except over the Coastal Strip, where the peak will be expected in May.

The weatherman further noted that the country would experience normal rainfall onset with fair distribution over the areas expected to receive above-average rainfall and poor distribution in the ASAL region.

However, this has not been the case. Since this planting season began, various parts of the country have been receiving erratic rainfall. Provided that 98 percent of the country’s agriculture is rain-fed, the situation is likely to attract considerable losses to farmers who had already planted as the short rains would affect seed germination, which will lead to low yield.

The arid and semi-arid areas are the worst hit, with the country having suffered a 70 percent drop in crop production.

The rain shortage will hurt the country’s economy and its efforts to attain food security, which the government has been yearning to achieve. The country’s poor rainfall performance will also negatively impact the livestock sector production due to shortages of animal feeds.

ALSO READ: Transport Crisis as Fuel Shortage Enters Second Week

In the ASALs, problems related to water scarcity and poor regeneration of pastures, and limited water availability for livestock are also expected to increase. This will force farmers to go an extra mile in protecting their livestock from death due to hunger.

The witnessed depressed rainfall will also affect fishing since dams have been drying up in Kenya’s largest county of Turkana, residents now starring at starvation.

According to a report released on Monday by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), At least 3.5 million Kenyans are in desperate need of food assistance following a severe drought that was last seen 40 years ago.

Last week, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary  Peter Munya said the government would do everything possible through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Cooperatives to ensure farmers are fully engaged in many agricultural activities to enhance the country’s food security.

This can only be achieved if farmers, with the government’s help, turn to other planting alternatives such as irrigation since this is the fourth season in a row that the rains will be failing to meet traditional expectations.

The agricultural sector is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, contributing approximately 33 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It employs more than 40 percent of the total population and 70 percent of the rural population.

The sector accounts for 65 percent of the export earnings, provides the livelihood (employment, income, and food security needs) for more than 80 percent of the Kenyan population, and contributes to improving nutrition through the production of safe, diverse, and nutrient-dense foods.






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