Friday, March 15, 2013

Farmers Affected by changing weather patterns

By Joshua Kisemei

Winds stronger than never felt before, sun burning than never before and unexpected rains have become part of the strange weather conditions that residents of Nguruman have had to bear from January to date.

‘We have never experienced these temperatures before, sometimes I think they rise up to 43 degrees or even more’ Estimated Mr. Mathu the environment officer at the ministry of Agriculture, Magadi Division.

The heat has made it impossible for people to work in the farms into the mid mornings. This has forced farmers to wake up earlier than usual to avoid working in the sun. ‘This time round, the sun is punishing the people not even the vegetation’ says a Herder, ‘if you graze your cattle in the field until evening, you return home with a very bad headache'.

herders walking goats and sheep through the dry Olkiramatian Plains

With the rising temperatures other effect like the reducing levels of water in both the Oloibortoto and Entasopia rivers make it impossible for farmers living further from Nguruman escarpments to cultivate their land.

Farmer irrigating his crops

‘Some of us have had to rent farms that are closer to the water source in order to sustain ourselves since agriculture is our only livelihood.’ said a farmer. ‘Even in the farms that are closer to the escarpment, the water is not adequate for all the farmers and disputes are a common occurrence’.

Parts of lake Magadi that always maintained some water even in the dry season have dried up this time round.

Blowing away iron sheet and grass roofing and breaking down trees, the winds that have become a common phenomenon every evening have caused damage to houses and farms in various parts of Nguruman.‘The wind blows sand into your mouth and eyes making it a hustle to walk or even stand outside in the evenings’ Says Mr. Kimani, a Nguruman resident.

In the past five days, unpredictable rains accompanied by thunder and lightning have been experienced in the area raising worries from the residents that the long rains could be coming sooner than expected finding them unprepared to utilize the wet season. The long rains have over the years presented an opportunity for the residents to cultivate larger tracks of land that could not be sustained by rain fed agriculture. 

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