The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: July Likely to Be Dry, Experts Say

The country will be drier and colder next week as July sets in, weathermen have said.

They predicted that the rain will generally reduce while temperatures will drop as the cold season begins properly. This is likely to depress farmers whose crops now desperately require rains. Deputy director of the Meteorological Department Peter Ambenje said only western Kenya and the coast are assured of rain. "The developments indicate maintenance of rainfall activities in the western parts and along the coastal strip though with reduced intensities and spatial distribution," he said.

July is the last month of what is sometimes refereed to as Kenya's winter. Ambenje said the current weather is caused by strong winds among other conditions. He said there was a pick-up in rainfall activities along the coast and parts of central highlands including Nairobi last week. "Generally dry conditions were sustained elsewhere in the country," he said. Temperatures also increased over most parts of the country. Lodwar Meteorological station recorded the highest maximum temperature of 37.0°C while Nyahururu Meteorological station recorded the lowest night-time temperature of 6.0°C.

The country has been relying on spatial rains last month for the current crops in season. Food security is also threatened by a maize disease that has destroyed the entire season's harvest in the South Rift Valley and is now spreading across the country. Last month, the Ministry of Agriculture said the disease, the maize lethal necrosis, was first detected in January by farmers in the Nyanza and Rift Valley Provinces. It is is airborne and causes infected plants to stunt, wilt and die at the flowering stage. The ministry estimates that about 300,000 farmers, who produced 3.5 million 90-kilogramme bags of maize last year, have been affected by the disease this year.

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