Erratic weather patterns upend traditional agriculture in Kenya

Rains have long been a blessing to Kenyan farmers, the vast majority of whom rely on them to grow crops. However, as the country continues to experience heavier rains season after season, flooding has become farmers’ worst nightmare.

Many now wish that the ongoing heavy rains pounding the East African nation would stop, even if only for a week, to give their crops time to grow.

A man leaves his house fearing it may be submerged following increased rainfall that has claimed the lives of over 200 people and destroyed a lot of property in Kenya, May 3, 2024. /CFP

A man leaves his house fearing it may be submerged following increased rainfall that has claimed the lives of over 200 people and destroyed a lot of property in Kenya, May 3, 2024. /CFP

For the past month, most areas in Kenya have been receiving up to 200 mm of rain, resulting in heavy flooding and the deaths of over 230 people, authorities said.

The latest onslaught of heavy rains came after Kenya experienced prolonged drought and rains last year, with the effects of climate change ravaging the country in quick succession.

Most farms are now flooded, and some farmers have lost their entire crop due to surface runoff, while others are experiencing stunted or yellowing crops as rains wash away nutrients.

A cultivator shows sun-dried maize, Nakuru, Kenya, September 28, 2023. /CFP

A cultivator shows sun-dried maize, Nakuru, Kenya, September 28, 2023. /CFP

Common food crops cultivated by farmers in East Africa include potatoes, onions, tomatoes, capsicum, cucumbers, maize, beans and various other vegetables.

For exports, they grow French beans, sugar snaps, avocados, herbs and garden peas, among other crops.

These essential crops are now facing severe threats due to widespread flooding.

The erratic weather that many farmers did not plan for has also not spared livestock farmers, with the ongoing rains increasing cases of diseases like foot rot and pneumonia among goats, sheep and cattle.

According to the Kenya Red Cross, about 10,000 animals, including sheep, cattle, goats and camels, have been swept away by floods, while 36,344 acres (more than 14,700 hectares) of croplands have been damaged across Kenya.

(Cover: a farmer observes maize crop destroyed by floods at his farm in Rongai, Nakuru County, Kenya, May 3, 2024. /CFP)

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency