Effects of trends of climate variability and small-scale farmers’ perception and adaptation strategies in Kijabe Location, Kiambu County, Kenya
Kiarie, Samuel Wakang’u
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This study was undertaken in Kijabe location where small-scale farmers depend on rain fed agriculture and over the years, frequent crop failure due to rain shortages has become common. Climate scientists predict increasingly dry conditions in much of Africa due to climate variability. Small-scale farmers’ efforts to adapt have shown both unfavourable and positive effects and hence the need to be explored. This study therefore examined the small-scale farmers’ adaptation strategies to climate variability, in Kijabe location, Kiambu County, Kenya. The study evaluated trends in rainfall and temperature between1983 and 2013, assessed how these trends of climate variability have affected farmers’ perception in climate variability and also explored small-scale farmers’ adaptation strategies. The study further analysed how socioeconomic factors influence small-scale farmers’ adaptation to climate variability in Kijabe. Mixed method approach was adopted in addressing the objectives of the study. The study employed simple random and purposive sampling techniques. Questionnaires, interviews, field observations and review of documents, techniques and tools were employed to generate relevant data. Qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques were adopted and results presented using frequency tables, bar graphs and pie charts. Results of the study established that small scale farmers in Kijabe experienced climate variability in the period 1983-2013. The results of this study established a positive relationship between temperature variation and adaptation by small scale farmers in Kijabe. Small scale farmers who detected an increase in temperature were more likely to adapt compared to those who have not detected any increase in temperature (r= 0.015, p<0.020). The study further showed that small scale farmers who detected an increase in rainfall were less likely to adapt compared to those farmers who detected a decreased in precipitation (r= -0.014, p<0.001). Major adaptation methods adopted by small scale farmers were mixed crops farming (91%), growing crops that mature faster (90%), increased use of inorganic fertilizers (87%) and change of planting dates (i.e. planting at first rain) (74%). The probability of more educated farmers to adapt to climate variability was higher than that of less educated farmers (r = 0.010, p<0.01). The challenges to climate adaptations strategies among the small scale farmers identified included; lack of improved seeds (87%), lack of capital (86%), lack of necessary farm inputs (77%), lack of information about proper adaptation mechanisms (69%), lack of timely climate forecasting information on the expected climate changes (53%) and shortage of water for irrigation (52%). The study concluded that climate variability is real and small-scale farmers have adopted various adaptation strategies which are constrained by a range of challenges in Kijabe. The study recommends that rain-fed farming in Kijabe needs to be complimented with drip irrigation, rain water harvesting and green house techniques to enhance sustainable crop production. Ministry of Agriculture and Kenya Meteorological Department should ensure accurate, reliable and customized weather information is recorded and weather advisories are timely developed and availed to the farmers. Small scale farmers should be empowered on the need to embrace sustainable adaptation strategies.