Perception and Use of Climate Forecast Information Amongst Smallholder Farmers in Semi-Arid Kenya
Makokha, G. L.
Kinuthia, R. N.
MetadataShow full item record
This study investigates perception and use of seasonal forecast and the influence of the 2004 October-December (OND) seasonal forecast on agricultural decision-making amongst smallholder farmers in semi-arid Kenya, in agro-ecological zones UM4 and LM5. Field surveys were conducted before and after the release of OND growing season climate forecast by the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) in 2004. Seasonal forecast issued by the KMD indicated that the two agro-ecological zones were to receive normal tending to above normal OND rainfall of 2004. However, observed rainfall show that agro-ecological zone UM4 received near normal rainfall while LM5 received below normal rainfall. Although KMD`s prediction of onset was accurate, a poor distribution in LM5 led to crop failure and losses in other farm enterprise. Despite farmers′ access to seasonal forecast from KMD, majority made farm-level decisions in the light of what they perceive rather than what actually is. Majority of farmers lack confidence in seasonal climate forecast, but rate it useful, suggesting that there is a vast market for forecast information. This makes it necessary for the climate community, extension and farmers to adopt a collaborative approach to improve utilization of seasonal forecast products. Farm management strategies are not influenced by agro-ecological zones but farmers showed potential to respond to forecasts when they altered planting date and changed crop cultivars. The study demonstrates the effect of generating climate forecast on a large geographic scale and suggests a downscaled forecast product at a local level as a way of improving forecast quality. Although farmers′ access forecast information and considers it useful, its integration