The long season rains are set to begin in the fourth week of March in Kenya’s bread baskets of Rift Valley and the Central region according to the Kenya Meteorological Department.
According to the International Water Management Institute, rain fed agriculture accounts for 95 per cent of farmed land in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The western highlands (Kitale, Kericho, Nandi, Eldoret, Kakamega), Lake Basin (Kisumu, Kisii, Busia), Central Rift Valley (Narok, Nakuru, Naivasha), Highlands East of the Rift Valley (Nyeri, Embu, Meru, Murang’a, Kiambu), Nairobi Area (Dagoretti, Wilson, Eastleigh), Southeastern Kenya (Machakos, Makindu, Voi, Taita Taveta), and the Southern Coastal strip(Mombasa, Mtwapa, parts of Kilifi): are likely to receive near normal to above normal rainfall in the fourth week of March.
Maize, beans, coffee, tea are some of the crops grown in the western highlands, Lake Basin region and the highlands East of Rift Valley.
However,the Northwestern Kenya (Lodwar, Lokichoggio, Lokitaung etc), Northern Kenya (Marsabit, Moyale, North Horr) and Northeastern Kenya (Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, El Wak, Garbatulla) and Northern Coastal Strip (Malindi, Lamu, parts of Kilifi): are likely to remain generally sunny and dry for most of the month of March. Occasional light to moderate rainfall is nevertheless likely especially towards the end of the month.
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Smallholder farmers preparing their land in readiness for long season rains. Courtesy
The Economic Survey 2018 report reveals that dry weather conditions in the 2017 season led to a decline in production of most agricultural commodities during the year. In this, overall, marketed agricultural production registered a decelerated growth of 8.1 per cent in 2017, from the 10.8 per cent growth reported in 2016.
Earnings from marketed wheat for instance reduced by 33.8 per cent from eight billion shillings in 2016 to Sh5.3bn in 2017. The value of marketed coffee decreased marginally from Sh16.2bn in 2016 to Sh16bn in 2017. The value of marketed milk declined by 8.7 per cent from Sh22.9bn in 2016 to Sh20.9bn in 2017.
According to the State Department of Irrigation, Kenya’s irrigation-based farming is still limited. Of the total land area under agriculture, 2.9m ha, irrigation accounts for only four per cent but contributes to three per cent of the GDP and provides 18 per cent of the value of all agricultural produce, demonstrating it’s potential in increasing agricultural production and productivity.