County climate risk profiles are critical and timely for struggling smallholders in Kenya
Through Joyce Chimbi
Farmers like Peris Wanjiku continue to tackle climate-related risks at a more frequent and intense pace. Credit: Joyce Chimbi / IPS
NAIROBI, May 19, 2021 (IPS) – Peris Wanjiku, a small farmer from Othaya, Nyeri County, about 152 kilometers from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, saw his fellow farmers slowly start selling their land in front of increasingly erratic weather conditions.
âFor the right price, more and more farmers are willing to abandon their farms. We have seen it happen in Kiambu County and it is slowly happening right here in Nyeri, âshe told IPS.
The survival of Kenya’s smallholder farmers, who depend primarily on rain-fed farming systems, is at stake as agricultural experts warn that farmers increasingly face floods, droughts and heat stress at more frequent, intense and unpredictable. This has resulted in severe crop and livestock losses.
Wanjiku said that in a good year, a commercial farmer earns between $ 2,000 and $ 3,000 an acre from crops such as corn, wheat, tea and coffee. At the same time, the price of the land was quite high.
âAn acre of farmland in Kiambu typically costs a minimum of $ 100,000, depending on the region. If I hold on to my acre, how many years will it take me to make that kind of money? We are at the crossroads”. Said Wanjiku.
Government statistics show that the country’s average smallholder land area is about 1.2 acres.
At the same time, the average price of an acre of land in Kiambu County is $ 323,000 – the third highest land price in the county. According to Hass Consult, a leading real estate company, the highest land prices are found in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, followed by the coastal county of Mombasa.
It is in this context that the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) has developped 45 climate risk profiles for all agricultural counties in Kenya except the urban counties of Nairobi and Mombasa.
The 45 profiles were developed in three phases. The first 15 profiles were completed in 2017, the second batch of 16 profiles in 2019 and the last batch of 14 profiles will be launched this year.
âThe Kenya Counties Climate Risk Profiles are short and comprehensive. They highlight value chains, agricultural systems and priority geographic areas that are highly sensitive and exposed to climatic factors, âAlliance scientist Dr Caroline Mwongera told IPS.
An agricultural value chain is a set of actors and activities involved from the level of production to consumption.
âIn addition, these profiles provide an assessment of programmatic interventions and the level of institutional capacity needed to help farmers and pastoralists cope with climate-related risks and vulnerabilities,â she said.
Mwongera explained that these profiles were developed with the aim of guiding and prioritizing climate-smart agricultural investments at the county level. This is essential as Kenya has a decentralized governance system where power and resources are shared between the national government and the 47 county governments.
“In each county, key commodities in the value chain have been identified and the most problematic climate risks have been described. They therefore detail the vulnerabilities and risks posed by climate risks to people, their livelihoods. , their investments and the environment, âMwongera said.
For example, a profile on Kakamega County noted the impact of drought and late onset of rains as well as higher temperatures in the hot season and lower temperatures in the cold season and this impact on farmers.
The report then listed adaptation strategies that farmers were using to deal with climate change and listed other adaptation practices on and off the farm. Non-agricultural activities refer to agricultural activities undertaken outside an agricultural setting, such as the marketing of products, etc.
Overall, the 45 profiles provide insight into climate risk issues and historical and future climate trends in this East African country.
Kenya’s food security report released in January predicted a 30 percent reduction in harvests due to below-average rainfall from October to December 2020.
A similar report released in March predicted long below-average rains from March to May this year and a subsequent poor harvest.
In this context, the Climate Risk Profiles provide a synthesis of policy, institutional and governance frameworks that can create an enabling environment for farmers to overcome climate-related risks.
Mwongera also said the latest batch of profiles referred to the need for a women-sensitive climate risk management plan.
At the right price, more and more farmers are ready to sell their farms. Credit: Joyce Chimbi / IPS
Judy Matu, president of the Kenya Association of Women in Agriculture, told IPS: âWomen play a very central role in agriculture. Building climate resilient farming systems requires that women be involved, that ‘they actively participate and are champions of climate intelligence. agriculture. “
World Bank estimates show that women run at least three quarters of Kenya’s farms. Meanwhile, women received just 1.6 percent of the roughly 10 million hectares of land registered between 2013 and 2017, according to the Kenya Land Alliance.
“We indeed have the problem of male dominated land ownership and female dominated land use. A majority of women farmers do not have the power to make decisions about how land is used. “Matu told IPS.
Matu said that at the same time, not only are women farming land they do not own, but all cash crops and large livestock are owned by men.
“Women run farms on a daily basis and they need knowledge about good agricultural practices such as agroforestry, organic farming and conservation. But trees also belong to men who decide whether a tree can be planted or cut down. “said Matu.
Matu said initiatives are underway to overcome these challenges, including the participation of men and women in sensitization sessions on the need to adapt more climate-resilient farming practices. This, she said, creates an enabling environment for women to put the acquired knowledge into practice.
Meanwhile, farmers like Wanjiku continue to tackle climate-related risks at a more frequent and intense pace. But Wanjiku said if she could find solutions to overcome these challenges, she would not sell her land.