Nakuru farmers devise ways to mitigate effects of drought

Friday September 06 2019

Peter Ngugi, a coffee farmer in Bahati, Nakuru County, inspecting his crops. Delayed rains have left many large scale farmers reeling in huge loses. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Prolonged drought at the beginning of the year has left most large scale farmers in Nakuru County reeling in huge losses.

The erratic weather patterns have left the agriculture rich region food insecure and livelihoods of thousands of residents threatened.

The dry spells are likely to have a negative impact on crop and milk production across the country. However, most farmers have taken measures to cope with effects of the ever changing climate.


The farmers have devised strategies to mitigate the effects extreme weather changes. They have now resorted to planting on onset of rains, increased pesticide application and planting early maturing crops among other best crop husbandry.

Mr Joseph Boro, a dairy farmer at Mbaruk in Gilgil sub county is worried that drought at the beginning of the year, may have devastating effects on is 300 acres of Rhodes grass.


“The drought witnessed at the start of the year slowed down the growth of Rhodes grass I had planted for my dairy animals. This means I will have to spend more on buying hay to mitigate the impact of adverse weather on my livestock,” he said.

Drought has seen illegal grazers drive their animals into his expansive farm as they search for pasture for their animals.


“The little grass that had survived has been destroyed by illegal grazers and this made me incur more losses,” he said.

Mr Boro is also worried by the erratic rain patterns.

“Gone are days when I could predict the onset of rains. Even what the weatherman is telling us is unpredictable sometimes,” he argues.

“Weather has become more unpredictable in the recent years because of changing climate. For example, we may have heavy rains this year and face drought the following year. This makes it difficult for farmers to plan for land preparation and planting and thus affecting harvests,” said Mr Boro.


To mitigate against harsh weather conditions, he has drilled boreholes and stored rain water to use during dry spells.

“The borehole has allowed me to have enough water for my animals but this has not been adequate as they also dry up during drought,” he said.

Another farmer in Dundori Mr Jackson Kihika said that should rains continue to be erratic, agriculture will be seriously affected in future.

“For the past two seasons I have lost a huge amount of maize and potato crop in my 60 acres farm due to erratic weather,” said Mr Kihika.

He blamed the meteorological department for not giving credible signals to warn and prepare farmers for weather changes.

“Climate change is a reality and has drastically affected our agriculture, crop cycle and production of staple food crops such as maize, potato and wheat,” said Mr Kihika.

He says due to inaccurate weather predictions, this year he had to wait until June when the rains started.

“The weatherman had told us to plant in April but rains did not come until June. The prediction was wrong and those who planted are now counting heavy losses,” said Mr Jeremiah Njanja, whose 20 acres of potato crop wilted after rains failed.


In order to cope with climate change, farmers in the region are using a wide range of agricultural technologies and strategies.

“I have scaled down my potato acreage from 20 acres to 15 acres and I am mulching, intercropping and planting of food security crops with short life spans like peas and beans,” said Mr Njanja.

The erratic rainfall patterns have taught farmers to use other strategies including water harvesting.

“To enhance our agricultural productivity we have joined hands as several farmers in Dundori and constructed a water pan and this has saved us when there is a general decline of rainfall,” said Mr Njanja.

He said with the water pan they have reduced their production risks as well as the effects of drought.