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UN agency urges farmers to keep livestock to tackle climate fluctuations

NAKURU, Kenya, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Keeping livestock in dry areas is one of the most effective ways to cushion households from extreme climate fluctuations, a senior official of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said.

 

Piers Simpkin, FAO's Senior Program Coordinator in Kenya said in an interview with Xinhua on Thursday that livestock keeping is an adaptation mechanism to climate variability.

"Keeping livestock in dry rangelands is considered one of the most effective livelihoods that is adapted to reduce the impact of drought through mobility. Mobile livestock systems by definition are low input and low output systems," he said.

Simpkin said FAO is supporting improvement of grazing management in Kenya by encouraging planned grazing mainly benefiting pastoralist communities.

Although it is imperative for farmers to adopt drought tolerant crops, uncertainties over prices of substitute crops complicate their transition to climate smart farming.

"It is difficult for farmers to change overnight from growing their own food and cash crops to becoming fully market dependent and feeling comfortable to give up growing their staple food crop for a crop whose production might be more reliable but whose market price is unknown and liable to global fluctuations," he said.

FAO has established Early Warning Early Action Fund (EWEA) from which county governments in Kenya would receive financial support to provide animal feeds for selected breeding animals for individual families, Simpkin said.

On preparing communities for weather extremes, FAO is executing an early warning system of which 100,000 people are targeted with early warning messages and response options, according to the official.

Simpkin said FAO is collaborating with National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) on a predictive livestock early warning system which is intended to assist the state agency tasked with assessing drought situation in the country in informing public, identifying possible responses and preparing adequately to avert crises associated with severe drought.

"Prevention is better than cure -- hence resilience building and preparing communities in advance to mitigate or avoid drought risk is vital. The increasing frequency and severity of drought is not purely climatic but due to a number of factors," he said.

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