Role of indigenous knowledge in seasonal climate forecast for agricultural production in Bungoma Central Sub- County, Bungoma County, Kenya
Barasa, Caroleen Auma
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Indigenous knowledge is the local knowledge unique to a given culture or society. It is the basis of decision making in agriculture, healthcare, food preservation and natural resource management. This study was set to establish the existence of Indigenous knowledge in the community of Chwele and Mukuyuni wards of Bungoma Central Sub-County, Bungoma County and its role in seasonal climate forecast. The general objective of this study was to examine the role of indigenous knowledge in seasonal climate forecast for agricultural production in Chwele and Mukuyuni wards. The specific objectives were: (a) To identify and document IK indicators used in forecasting weather in the study area and how the forecast is received and used by farmers, (b) to evaluate farmers‟ perception of both scientific and indigenous knowledge forecast in improving agricultural production and (c) to examine socio-economic factors influencing the use of the forecasts for agricultural production. Data collection was done using questionnaires, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. The study employed a descriptive survey design which involved the use of both quantitative and qualitative techniques. The study was stratified into six sub-locations; each was allocated the number of respondents that were to be drawn from it proportionately; according to its total number of farmer households. A list of all farmer households in all sub-locations was sought and random sampling was executed. Using ballot method all required respondents were drawn. Questionnaires were administered to 100 respondents to achieve the three objectives. 5 key informants were included for the interviews and two focus group discussions of 8 members each gave additional information on these three objectives. Scientific forecast on rainfall in the study area for the last 4 years was assembled from Bungoma water supply station and comparison made with the IK forecast as given by the key informants who use IK to forecast weather, the year of reference was 2013 and their previous experiences. Field survey data was analyzed by SPSS, presented and the hypotheses tested by chi-square and factor analysis. The findings revealed that the community relied on IK for seasonal forecast as shown by chi square test p> .05. Moreover, farmers‟ knowledge of birds, insects, animals, plants, wind and astronomical indicators was used to predict weather. It was also evident that over 70% of the respondents in Chwele and Mukuyuni Wards access scientific forecasts and their main sources are radio and neighbors. Of those who access the scientific forecasts, only 30% have confidence in it. 75% rate forecast to be useful despite their lack of confidence. The farmers perceived that indigenous knowledge indicators were accurate and reliable in their forecast compared to the scientific forecasts which they termed as unreliable and untimely. It was established that uncertainties about seasonal forecasts was one of the critical factors that forced farmers to continue using IK. It was clear that farmers‟ socio-economic status may impede or enhance the use of forecasts. Factor analysis was used to reduce the factors mentioned, and only 5 were extracted as having significant influence to forecast use. It is recommended that IK should be used to augment scientific forecast to enhance credibility and usability of these forecasts. Scientific forecast should be downscaled to farmer accompanied with advice on how the forecast should be used to enhance their coping strategies. Farmers should also be provided with farm inputs in order for them to take advantage of a good season or avert risks in a poor season. It is suggested that further research on IK in the study area should be done in all aspects of environmental issues where IK is used, a study to establish the rational of IK indicators used should also be carried out and gender involvement in forecast application should be investigated.