Farmer Perception and Adaptation Strategies on Climate Change in Lower Eastern Kenya: A Case of Finger Millet (Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn) Production

  •  Madegwa Yvonne    
  •  Onwonga Richard    
  •  Shibairo Solomon    
  •  Karuku George    


Eastern Kenya, a semi-arid region, is characterized by low and erratic rainfall, high temperatures, and low soil fertility. Climate change has further worsened the situation leading to frequent droughts and hence increased food insecurity. Traditional crops like finger millet are possible solutions to combating changing climate due to their drought resistance nature, ability to produce high yields with little inputs and high nutritional content. It is against this backdrop that a survey was carried out in Mwala and Katangi divisions of Machakos and Kitui counties, respectively, to assess farmer’s perception on climate change, coping and adaptation mechanisms in finger millet production systems in smallholder farming systems of lower eastern Kenya. Data was collected, using semi-structured questionnaire, from 120 farmers i.e. 60 in each division. A stratified random sampling procedure, with location as a stratum was used to select respondent’s households. A computer random number generator was used to select number of households in each stratum. Maize and beans were the most popular crops grown by over 98% of the farmers in both sub-counties. Farmers also grew drought tolerant legumes; cow peas, green grams pigeon peas and cereals; sorghum and finger millet. Temperature rise was ranked highest with 88% and 98%, followed by prolonged drought with 70% and 72%, irregular rainfall at 69% and 81% and increased wind intensity at 22% and 28% at Machakos and Kitui, respectively, as aspects of climate change perceived by farmers. Farmers had taken up early planting at 88.6% and 93.7%, use of organic inputs at 89% and 92%, introduced new tillage practices, by applying ridges and furrows and tied ridges at 45% and 54%, and by adopting irrigation at 13%, and 9%, as coping strategies to climate change in Machakos and Kitui, respectively.

It can be concluded that farmers in Machakos and Kitui are aware of climate change and its negative effects on crop production. In a bid to minimize crop loss and food insecurity, they have taken up various soil moisture conservation and soil fertility enhancement technologies.

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