GFAR blog

Bolstering Kenyan farmers’ resilience to climate shocks

By the Kenya National Farmers’ Federation (KENAFF)

Like the rest of the world, Kenya’s climate is changing. The rainy seasons’ timing and duration have shifted, making them exceedingly unpredictable. Climate change poses a significant danger to agriculture, food security, and poverty alleviation.

Agriculture contributes to climate change by emitting anthropogenic greenhouse gases and converting non-agricultural land like forests to farmland. On the other hand, farmers suffer from climate change, and rising temperatures are already altering planting and harvest seasons worldwide. New and amplified pest and disease pressures, water shortages, droughts, and more frequent and robust extreme weather events are becoming more common and intense. As a result, enhancing climate resilience is crucial for the future of farmers, land, water, and food supplies around the globe.

Climate shocks and extreme climatic phenomena like floods, droughts, strong winds, heat waves, earthquakes, and hurricanes are too common. The cumulative impact of these shocks is eroding the resilience of broad parts of Kenya’s population. The shocks exacerbate an already difficult situation for food system actors with uncertain livelihoods who are already actively marginalized, such as smallholder farmers, informal sector workers, women, and youth.

Climate shocks are expected to compromise agricultural production in Kenya, worsening food shortages and malnutrition. Rain-fed agriculture accounts for most agriculture, and climate change has already significantly impacted farmers’ capacity to produce food. As a solution, farmers can adopt various practical measures to increase their agricultural systems’ innate resilience to meet present and future food needs while coping with uncertainty and climate change.

The Kenya National Farmers’ Federation (KENAFF), the apex umbrella Farmers’ Organization and “Farmers Voice’ in Kenya, opines to create sustainable initiatives and build adaptation actions for Kenyan farmers in response to climate shocks. The Federation does so in recognition of the critical importance of sustaining the livelihoods of millions of small-scale agricultural producers and the billions more who rely on the food they produce.

KENAFF Programme Officer introductory meeting with  farmers on the Silvopastoral system approach in Elgeyo Marakwet County. Photo credit: KENAFF

To fulfill her core mandate of lobbying and advocacy, policy action, farmer empowerment, and targeted capacity building, the Federation works to:

  • Promote the inclusion of local perspectives in research and innovation agendas.
  • Catalyze investment in innovative digital technologies that empower and support food producers.
  • Advance transformative approaches to climate adaptation in the most vulnerable places.

As part of her commitment to promoting sector stakeholders’ cohesiveness in dispensing progressive uptake of agricultural innovations for enhanced socio-economic status of the farmers, KENAFF targets the realization of climate-resilient agriculture through advancing transformative adaptation research. The Federation is cognizant of the Kenyan farmers’ lack of resilience to impacts of climate change anticipated between now and 2050. Failure to act on these changes could result in millions of catastrophic food and nutrition insecurity.

In a bid to respond to the climate shocks and complement what is being done by the national government, county governments, and inter-governmental organizations, the Federation strategizes to bolster adaptation to climate shocks by promoting the establishment and sustainable management of farm forestry.

KENAFF is implementing a climate change adaptation and mitigation initiative – the KENAFF Farm Forestry and Afforestation Initiative – which aims to conserve agrobiodiversity and re-forest degraded lands to slow down the impacts of climate change globally over the next ten years (2021 – 2030) and in perpetuity. The Initiative envisages complementing the government’s aim of achieving 10% forest cover by 2030.

KENAFF Farm Forestry and Afforestation Initiative Tree Planting session with farmers; to grow and nurture trees in order to cope with climate change. Photo by KENAFF

The Initiative is progressively enhancing the resilience of agricultural systems and building the capacity of farmers to adapt to climate change. Through the Initiative, local communities are provided with a sustainable supply of wood; the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, women, and the youth are improved through the sale of tree seedlings and tree products to enable them to cope with the effects of climate change.

Additionally, KENAFF is implementing a capacity-building program that promotes improved land management using the Intensive Silvopastoral System (ISPS) approach. This approach combines fodder shrubs planted at high densities, intercropped with highly productive pastures and timber and or fruit trees planted in East-West lines to:

  • Minimize shading
  • Strengthen the capacity and resilience of family farmers
  • Recover degraded pastures, increasing livestock productivity
  • Improve the environment and build resilience to climate change in the climate hotspots in Kenya.

In response to the growing threat climate change poses to agriculture, food security and poverty alleviation, KENAFF urges all sector players to promote farm forestry establishment and sustainable management to improve adaptation to climate shocks.

This blog is part of the GFAR Partners in Action series, celebrating the achievements of our diverse network of partners who are working together to shape a new, sustainable future for agriculture and food. Each month we will be showcasing stories related to a key theme in agri-food research and innovation. The theme for November is Building resilience to climate shocks.

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