William Masaka Ondieki, Warkach Kipkorir Tonui
Over the years, small-scale dairy farmers in Keumbu Division have experienced decline in milk production. The persistent decline in dairy production in the region has let to questions as to what must have contributed to the decline. The study objective was to assess the trends in rainfall variability and their perceived effects on dairy production in Keumbu division, Kisii County. The study adopted a survey research design, where both quantitative and qualitative research strategies were used. Data was collected through Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), questionnaires, key informant interviews, observations and desk review. Both simple random and purposive sampling techniques were used to sample 365 small scale dairy farmers. It utilized qualitative and time series quantitative data sets for the period 1995-2019. The methods of data analysis were both qualitative and quantitative using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic data analysis taking into account common words, phrases, themes and patterns in order to enhance understanding. The findings indicates that since 1995 rainfall was found to be varied such that during 1995-2019 period, some years recorded high rains whilst others recorded low rains this is a reflection that rain in Keumbu division is highly variable with time. From the annual rainfall averages of Keumbu division, the observed changes of precipitation across the years in the past 23 years might have been as an impact of climate change and variability. These are indicated by rainfall patterns that are no longer predictable, shorter rains, delayed or rainfall coming early, rains that are sometimes heavier than normal and prolonged dry periods. Findings acknowledged the effects of prolonged droughts on dairy production which included: increase in diseases, death of calves and cows due to insufficient feed and water, decrease in milk production levels, poor reproduction and abortion due to poor animal health. The dairy farmers farther indicated that nutritious pasture dried up giving room for the growth of less nutritious pasture. The study recommended for the need for small holder dairy farmers to be empowered to effectively prepare for the effects of rainfall variability through production and conservation of fodder during severe drought and extreme high rainfall.
Published Date: 2021-07-25; Received Date: 2021-06-06