Voice of America (Washington, DC)

Kenya: Farmers Turn to New Breeds to Withstand Climate Change

Nairobi — Kenyan farmers over the years have often seen their crops wiped out by either floods or drought, causing poverty and soil degradation. Agriculture researchers are now promoting new farming practices and new animal breeds in the hopes that the farmers can withstand natural disasters and the changing climate system.

In western Kenya, farmers depend on their farms as a source food and income.

Farmers here complain that climate change has created unpredictable rain patterns and rising temperatures that lead to crop diseases and lower food production.

In this community field, production of cassava, a staple food here, has significantly dropped due to the cassava mosaic and cassava brown streak diseases.

But Dr. Samson Maobe of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, known as "KARI," says that is about to change.

"We are promoting technologies, particularly drought tolerant varieties, that has been improved and developed by KARI that are high yielding and promoting those adoption of those crops and production of those crops in order for the farmers to acquire capacity to adopt and produce those crops as measures to mitigate against adverse effects of the climate change," said Maobe.

Some farmers have accepted the change and embraced new varieties of crops...

Like cassava farmer Daniel Kitondo.

"We are planting this cassava because it's resistant to cassava mosaic. So with this we are very sure we are going to get a good harvest," said Kitondo.

In the livestock sector, researchers are introducing new animal breeds.

These animal breeds mature faster than the local breeds.

Thirty-eight-year-old Joshua Omollo acquired Galla Bucks goats two years ago and continues replacing his indigenous breeds with new animals.

"The good thing with these new breed of Galla goats, they mature faster. You will find that when local animals breed they are sold for 2,000 shillings and the new breeds can fetch for 12,000, sometimes 14,000 shillings," said Omollo.

George Nandi, a Kenyan government livestock officer, says the new innovation is eradicating poverty in the area but still needs a vigorous campaign to educate farmers.

"You see, they don't apply the technology you've taught them, and that one if you come the second time, you over repeat, and you see if you are not good-hearted, you can abandon," said Nandi.

Climate change and food security organizations caution that despite some progress, adoption of the new breeds and technologies is low, since many Kenyan farmers have limited economic resources.

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