Adapting to climate change the only way
Posted Sunday, August 7 2011 at 19:23
While thousands of Kenyans are standing up to assist their fellow citizens afflicted by hunger, this is the best time to look into the future of food security.
Climate scientists have compiled enough data to conclude that the drought in these areas will not only increase in frequency but also in intensity.
Even with normal rains in October, it is feared the region may not recover sufficiently, and may not break out of the cyclical food crisis.
It may be time now to make momentous decisions on how best to sustain life in the arid areas that are most vulnerable to climate change.
It is also emerging that some pockets of irrigated land in the same areas are bringing in good harvests, hence the first instinct is to expand such projects to cover bigger areas and produce more food.
This process in which people may be required to change a whole or part of their traditions and culture, though a major challenge, must be fully encouraged.
This is because changes in the climate indicate that species with the best chance of survival and prosperity are those which learn to adapt now.
Already, the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute has indicated that even with the availability of water, some crops such as maize may not thrive well in a warming world.
This could mean developing varieties that are not only drought-tolerant but also able to withstand high temperatures. Further, they should tolerate changing disease and pest patterns.
The Tea Research Foundation, for example, has warned that in less than a decade, areas around Nandi will be unsuitable for tea production.
To cope with these changes will require major transformations which must be knowledge- and technology-driven. This is where we urge our scientist to come out boldly and take charge.