Assessment Of Conservation Agriculture As An Adaptation Option To Climate Change In The Taita Hills, Kenya
Climate Change and Variability affects water supply and food security, especially in developing countries where many small-scale farmers rely on rain-fed agriculture for food production and as a main source of livelihood. The extent of the effects of climate change and variability on these small-scale producers largely depends on their level of adaptation, adaptive capacity, exposure and vulnerability. This study evaluates the effectiveness of Conservation Agriculture (CA) as a possible adaptation tool for farmers to climate change and variability in the Taita Hills, Kenya. A mixed research methodology was used entailing literature review, participatory methods, household surveys and experimental field assessments. It emerged from the results that both the long and short rainy seasons have become unpredictable and the amount of rainfall received was inadequate resulting in crop loss for farmers. 44% of the household survey respondents reported drought to be the major climate event causing crop losses among other events such as erratic rainfall patterns, above average rainfall and below average rainfall. Other factors reported to cause crop loss included insect pests and diseases, input factors and soil factors. In coping with drought, farmers reported a number of adaptation measures the most common one being buying food, reported by 70.9% of the respondents. While 39.7% of the respondents were aware about CA, only 3.2% practiced it on their farms. Finally, experimental assessments showed that CA has great potential in enhancing farmers’ adaptation to climate change as opposed to conventional practices especially in the low-altitude agro-ecological zone. The smallholder farmers possess a lot of traditional knowledge especially on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) that is an important CA component. The study recommends that agricultural extension to farmers be improved to create awareness on more sustainable adaptation practices and farmers be included in decision making regarding adaptation to climate change as they have a lot to offer.
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