Viability of indigenous knowledge based strategies in mitigation of drought in Gachoka Division, Embu County-Kenya
Nduti, Lilian Wanjiru
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Drought frequency is very high occurring at the rate of four in every five years. The main purpose of this research was to establish how the farmers use indigenous knowledge strategies in mitigation of drought in Gachoka Division. The data was collected from informants through questionnaires, group discussions and interviews with key persons being the village elders in every village. The findings of the research shows that 62.5% of the respondents reported that the frequency of drought in the area is less than year while 29.2 % reported that drought occur after every 1 to 2 years and 8.3% reported that the drought occur after every 5 years and above. This shows that the area is prone to drought and drought mitigating strategies are highly required. 41.7% of the respondents’ plant traditional crops in their farms while 33.3% plant hybrid crops and 25% planted both hybrid and traditional crops. These results shows that indigenous crops are of high value to them and the village elders attested this because they said that though most of time rainfall in Gachoka is not sufficient to a full season when they plant indigenous crops like millet, sorghum, cowpeas and green grams at least they harvest something small unlike the farmers who purely plant like maize, beans etc because when rain is not enough they barely harvest anything. The others adopt planting of both hybrid and traditional crops to avoid total crop failure and to get bumper harvest when the rains are sufficient since the hybrid crops do very well.45.83% of those who intercrop traditional crops harvest above 10bags per acre while 54.17% of those who plant hybrid seed harvest 1 to 2 bags per acre when the rain is not sufficient. This shows that the traditional crops is the way to go in Gachoka Division to avoid pangs of hunger when drought. From the research 79.1% agreed that indigenous knowledge has been overshadowed by modern science. This is due to the fact that modern science is well documented in journals, books, newspapers, radio, television, internet and others and easily understood by the elite in the society, this makes indigenous knowledge look outdated and archaic since there is nowhere to make reference unless from the old men and women. 20.8% disagreed that modern science has overshadowed indigenous knowledge since indigenous knowledge practices are still rampant in the area. From the study findings it is recommended that there is need to integrate indigenous knowledge and techno-science farming strategies to minimize the risk of total crop failure and to get bumper harvest when there is enough rainfall in the season not only in the Division but in other areas with similar environment and climate in Kenya.