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The agricultural sector in Kenya is dependent on factors that are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Five main climate change related drivers include: temperature, precipitation, sea level rise, atmospheric carbon dioxide content and incidence of extreme events. Higher temperatures will affect the reproductive capabilities of the adapted crops and eventually reduce yields of desirable crops while encouraging proliferation of un-adapted plants or weeds and pests. Our country has been affected by long dry spells that have led to drought causing huge economic losses through death of animals in semi-arid and arid lands. Although globally the changes occurring in the weather patterns will lead to gains in some crops in some regions of the world, the overall impacts of climate change on agriculture are expected to be negative,
threatening global food security.
In Kenya, the impact of these adverse climatic changes on agriculture is exacerbated by lack of adaption strategies, which are increasingly limited by the lack of institutional, economic and financial capacity to support such actions. The agricultural sector in Kenya directly contributes 26% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually and another 25% indirectly, accounts for 65% of Kenya’s total exports and provides more than 70% of informal employment in the rural areas. Therefore, the utmost concern should be a better understanding of the potential impact of the current and projected climate changes on agriculture in Kenya and to identify ways and means to adapt and mitigate the negative impacts. Addressing climate change in intensive farming systems will be very
different from those in agro-pastoral systems. Therefore climate change responses will need to be flexible, multiple and locally specific. Adaptation and mitigation policies and programs could potentially exasperate existing inequalities, and their success depends on addressing these potential issues.
KARI as a premier national agricultural institution with a broad network of 22 main research centres and 14 sub-centres strategically located in various agro-ecological zones in the country can play an important role in disseminating to farmers and livestock keepers adaptation technologies necessary for adapting and mitigating effects of climate change. Climate change adaptation and mitigation research is one of KARI’s thematic focal areas as stipulated in its Strategic Plan and its Implementation Framework for 2009-2014. KARI is therefore placing a lot of emphasis in working with farming communities to mitigating climate change. To consolidate the efforts in this area, KARI launched its climate change unit (CCU) in May 2010. The CCU aims to mainstream climate change within all KARI programmes and create awareness among KARI Scientists on vulnerability, adaptation and mitigation of climate change. I therefore take this opportunity to welcome you to this web portal, which the unit is using as one of the ways of interacting with other like minded people in the area of climate change.
Ephraim A. Mukisira, PhD, MBS