Farmers in Laikipia and Nyandarua counties are in a dilemma on whether to plant perennial crops as the dry weather continues in most parts of the country.
Some farmers have lamented that the weather had become unpredictable hence leaving them in a dilemma on which crops to plant.
“We are confused and we do not know whether to plant long-season or short-season crops due to the unpredictability of weather conditions,” said Peter Maina, a large-scale maize farmer in Marmanet, Laikipia county.
He said that it had become hard for them to predict when the rains would start because of climate change.
“In the past, we were planting around March because we knew it would start raining around then but nowadays, no one is getting it right when the onset of the rain season begins,” said Mr Maina.
“Last year, I lost the money I had spent on farm preparations, including the hiring of tractors, buying of fertilizer, and seeds because I had to replant since the rains delayed.”
Last year, the rains started in May instead of March and would last for one month instead of three months as it had been projected by the Kenya Meteorological Department.
Mr Maina’s sentiments were echoed by Ms Peris Wanjugu, a farmer in Salama area in Laikipia West, who said that she was yet to prepare her farm.
“I will start tilling my land and preparing it for planting when I will see the rains,” she said.
Ms Wanjugu noted that last year, farmers in the area suffered huge losses after the area was invaded by desert locusts.
“We are not sure whether to plant maize or wheat this season. Last year, our crops were destroyed by the desert locusts and we do not know if they are going to return,” said Ms Wanjugu.
Rains have delayed
On her part, Ms Naomi Njeri, a potato farmer in Boiman area, Nyandarua County said that she had tilled her land early in the month ready for planting but the rains have delayed.
“I am yet to plant because I fear that my seeds will go to waste. I decided to delay planting until the time the rains will start pounding,” the farmer said.
The farmers are now calling on agricultural officials to advise them on which crops and seeds to plant.
“We want to know which crops will boost climate resilience while at the same time addressing the issue of malnutrition,” said Ms Njeri.
Meanwhile, the meteorological department in Nyandarua county has advised farmers to liaise with the agricultural officers for advice on the appropriate seeds to be planted during this season to maximize crop-yield through appropriate land use management.
County Director of Meteorological Services, Misheck Mutembei has said that the onset of heavy rainfall is expected in the March-April-May season.
“Thunderstorms accompanied by heavy rainfall are expected in Nyandarua County starting this week, to signify the onset of the long rain season.
“The peak of the March-April-May rains is expected to be in April for most areas,” said Mr Mutembei.
He said that near-normal to above-normal rainfall is expected in the county, with the Southern parts of the county receiving above 650mm.