By Kayeli Ian
Kenya is a country with a primarily agrarian economy, with agriculture being the main source of livelihood for millions of people. However, climate change is posing a significant threat to the country’s agriculture sector, which could lead to severe consequences for the country’s food security and economic growth. In this article, we will explore the effects of climate change on Kenya’s agriculture sector.
Climate Change and Drought
One of the primary effects of climate change in Kenya is the increasing frequency and severity of droughts. According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), droughts in Kenya have become more frequent and severe over the past decade, affecting more than 2.6 million people in 2017 alone. Droughts are particularly devastating to Kenya’s agriculture sector, as they lead to crop failures, loss of livestock, and water shortages. Recently, the education Cabinet Secretary professor Ezekiel Machogu reported that 3.2 million school going children in Kenya, suffer from hunger due to drought crisis.
Crop Failure and Reduced Yield
Climate change is also causing significant changes in rainfall patterns, which are leading to reduced crop yields in many parts of the country. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected that Kenya’s agriculture sector could experience a decline in maize production of up to 30% by 2030 due to climate change. The decline in maize production could have severe consequences, as maize is a staple food in Kenya and is a key component of the country’s food security.
Pests and Diseases
Climate change is also affecting the incidence and distribution of pests and diseases in Kenya’s agriculture sector. Higher temperatures and increased humidity are creating conditions that are favorable for the growth and spread of pests and diseases. For example, the fall armyworm, which is a destructive pest that can cause significant damage to maize crops, has become a major threat to farmers in Kenya in recent years. The pest is believed to have entered the country through Tanzania, and its spread has been facilitated by changing climatic conditions.
Loss of Biodiversity
Kenya’s agriculture sector is heavily reliant on biodiversity, as many crops, such as beans, cowpeas, and sweet potatoes, are grown in mixed cropping systems that require a diverse range of plant species. However, climate change is leading to the loss of biodiversity in Kenya’s agriculture sector. Higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns are causing some plant species to become extinct or to shift their ranges, leading to a reduction in the diversity of crops that can be grown.
Climate change is posing a significant threat to Kenya’s agriculture sector, which could have severe consequences for the country’s food security and economic growth. Droughts, crop failures, reduced yields, pests and diseases, and loss of biodiversity are some of the effects of climate change that are already being felt in Kenya’s agriculture sector. To address these challenges, the government of Kenya and its development partners need to invest in climate-smart agriculture practices, such as improved irrigation systems, drought-resistant crops, and better pest management practices. With appropriate actions, it is possible to mitigate the effects of climate change on Kenya’s agriculture sector and ensure that the country’s farmers can continue to produce food for the growing population.