General, middle, News

In Search of Lasting Farming Solutions to Climate Change

January 25th, 2011

NAIROBI, Sep 29, 2010 (IPS), article by Isaiah Esipisu

“[...] on a farm in Eastern Kenya, Judith Mwikali Musau is one farmer who has successfully introduced the use of grafted plants for crop and fruit harvesting.

“Since my childhood, I saw my parents grow particular types of fruits, grains and legumes …to improve the yields on my farm, I have integrated the indigenous knowledge with appropriate technologies like grafting and permaculture,” she said.

On Musau’s three hectare plot in the semi-arid Mwala district, she grows 500 grafted mango trees, 800 grafted orange trees, 150 tangerine trees and some pawpaw trees. All trees are intercropped with legumes like pigeon peas and cowpeas.

But not all farmers have been as successful as Musau. “It becomes very difficult for the farmers to adapt to completely new adaptation technologies. They might look lucrative at the time of introduction, but evidence has shown that most of them cannot easily be sustained locally,” said Ayeri.

She said that before introducing any climate change adaptation measures to any community of smallholder farmers, some key issues must be considered.

“We must first understand the preferred local adaptation strategies. But most importantly, we must know how farmers perceive climate change, how they link their existent adaptations to the phenomenon, and how these existent adaptations can be improved to be more effective, efficient and sustainable,” explained Ayeri.

Examples of such methods include the introduction of high-yielding hybrid maize varieties, which have failed to survive without adequate farm inputs like fertilisers, and genetically improved dairy cattle that have been proven to be highly susceptible to harsh climatic conditions and diseases.

Ayeri said it is important for agriculturalists to understand what drives farmers to choose particular adaptation measures, and find out which ones may or may not work for them [...].”

Read the full article and learn more about mitigation and adaptation to climate change on IPS  here.