Adaptation strategies employed by small-scale farmers to counter the effects of rainfall variability in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya
Sylvia Jepkorir Toroitich, Dr. John Momanyi Mironga, Dr. Edmond Were
Rainfall variability is among the problems that hinder sustainable livelihoods and economic development, particularly for developing countries like Kenya. Kenya is seriously affected since it depends primarily on rain-fed agriculture. Yet, there is a dearth of information on agricultural adaptive strategies embraced by small scale farmers in Ainabkoi Sub-County. The purpose of the study was to explore adaptive strategies of small-scale farmers to rainfall variability in Ainabkoi Sub-County. Based on the study this paper explores the adaptation strategies employed by small-scale farmers to counter the effects of rainfall variability and the constraints to those adaptation strategies in Ainabkoi Sub-County. The study adopted a mixed design approach. The target population comprised of household heads, ward administrators and agricultural extension officers. Three ward administrators and three agricultural extension officers from Kapsoya, Kaptagat and Ainabkoi wards were purposively selected. A total of 396 households were sampled to take part in the study. Household heads were selected using proportionate systematic sampling technique. Questionnaire, interview schedule and observation schedule were used to collect data. Open-ended questions were analyzed through reporting of themes and quotas that emerged. Data from household survey were subjected to descriptive analysis to give frequencies and proportions. Findings were presented in form of cumulative frequency tables, graphs and charts. The study established that in their quest to counter the impacts of rainfall variability, small-scale farmers had devised adaptation strategies. Majority (59.7%) of them had diversified crop types and varieties followed by those who had changed planting dates (33.4%) and those who had completely changed crop varieties (27.6%). Most (57.9%) of the farmers cited lack of financial capital as the main constraint to implementing adaptation strategies geared towards countering the effect of rainfall variability. Following these findings, the Ministry of Agriculture needs to enhance opportunities for small-scale irrigation and water harvesting technologies. Similarly, the County government of Uasin Gishu needs to promote formation of local rural institutions and farmer groups and create more opportunities for livelihood diversification of local subsistence farmers.