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With ‘dying’ soils, climate-smart agriculture is the next frontier

Tuesday November 5 2019

When the results of this year’s census are released, Kenya’s population is expected to have increased.

That will mean the country’s soils, which recent research shows are dying, will have to support more people.

The report published in the Daily Nation said the country’s soils are too acidic for growing crops, posing a threat to national food security. Therefore, a sustainable solution is urgent.

The high acidity is a result of continuous use of inorganic fertilisers in farms without prior and effective soil testing to determine the soil pH and concentration of ions.

To curb the adverse effects of the situation, farmers ought to practise climate-smart agricultural techniques, which will restore arable land.

We cannot sit and watch as agriculture, the nation’s economic backbone, is diminished.

Farmers should be educated to adopt organic farming, which does not involve the use of synthetic pesticides or fertiliser.

IRRIGATION

This method of farming helps to conserve the water used during irrigation, which lowers the subsurface acidity that restricts root access to water, hence improving soil structure.

The result is healthy food, which contains more natural nutrients that help to protect body cells.

The use of kitchen gardens should be encouraged so as to supplement food production. Farmers will, hence, utilise space and maximise the farming areas.

With the high levels of acidity, food production might drop drastically. The authorities should, therefore, call upon farmers to be on the lookout for wavering weather patterns and grow ecologically suitable, drought- and pest-resistant crops for maximum productivity.

Water pans should be encouraged as a way of tapping run-off for use in irrigation during the dry season.

DIVERSIFICATION

Farmers need to practise crop rotation for alternation of crops with deep and shallow roots to help improve soil stability.

The diversification of crops will help to reduce the climatic impact.

During periods of seasonal food insecurity, fruit trees and agro-forestry will come in handy.

Patricia M. Kombo, founder of Patree Initiative, Makueni

* * *

Climate change and its underlying effects seem to not have been given the attention they deserve.

Look at its effect on the counties. Just when some of the counties, like Turkana and the others in the North, were almost recovering from the drought, the floods came and wreaked havoc.

Research shows that we have roughly 15 years before carbon emissions drive up global temperatures by 1.5 degrees Celsius. That means a quarter a century to the point of no return!

We can no longer just sit and pretend that the world is not dying. And we do not need to wait for the big institutions to come in and help us to curb the effects of climate change.

It is our responsibility to salvage the situation. Let us save the earth together. Let us fight climate change and its effects.

Daisy Chebet, Nairobi