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El Nino rains to last up to January 2024, says Weatherman

Farmers across Kitui County may take advantage of the ongoing heavy El Niño rain to now grow water thirsty maize and beans, an expert  advisory has said. 
Kitui County Director of Meteorological Services Mr Daniel Mbithi. He has advised farmers to plant maize and beans since the Met Department expects the short rains to be enhanced. El Niño rains may fall increasing the amount of downpour.|MWINGI TIMES 

Unlike the 2022 October -December short rains advisory when farmers in parts of Kitui were advised not to plant maize and beans, they are now free to plant the crop during this year’s season.

A  short rains seasonal advisory released on Wednesday by the Kitui County Director of Meteorological Services, Daniel Mbithi shows that all areas of Kitui County will receive enhanced rains suitable for maize and beans. The  advisory that comes only three day after the onset of the October-December rains on Sunday, was developed jointly with the county agricultural department and other key stakeholders early this month.

The advisory points out that all areas of Kitui County will receive enhanced rain from October 15 and continue right into January 2024. The rains will last between 60 and 75 days according to the advisory. The weather advisory shows that all areas on the County will receive  enhanced rain thus adequate for the  growing of maize and bean in all parts of Kitui County.

In a similar seasonal advisory for the 2022 short rains seasonal advisory, farmers in the lower ecological zones of the county were discouraged from growing maize and beans since the rain. It was forecast to be little at a maximum of 270 mm.

The weather forecast had indicated that that season’s rains would last for a maximum of 40 days. The advisory at the time said the farmers in those areas were advised to grow drought escaping crops like millet, cowpeas, sorghum, green grams  and pigeon peas.

But during the current advisory the same areas are expected to received enhanced rainfall of up to 400 mm that could sustain the growing of maize and beans to maturity.
Weather forecast for October-December rainfall season|Kenya Meteorological Department

The farmers in the areas according to Mbithi are also being  advised to grow  other crops like sorghum,green grams ,cowpeas , Dolichos,  Peageon peas , millet and cotton.

In the forecast for the October-December rain season, Mbithi said that the middle  ecological zone in Kitui county  will received  enhanced rains of up to 500 mm while  the potential upper ecological zone of the county will receive up to 750 mm.

In comparison during the 2022 rain forecast  for the same season, the  lower zone was to receive  a maximum  of 320mm  while the the upper zone was  to receive rains  capped at  434 mm. 

The County  Government of Kitui in a campaign spearheaded by the the agriculture County Executive Committee Member Stephen Kimwele had been  discouraging  the growing of maize and  beans in the county.

However,  the current enhances  El Niño rains have opened an opportunity for Kitui farmers to take advantage of and grow maize and beans. 

In the recent past, Kitui County has experience unreliable rainfall leading perpetual beans and maize crop failure. The beans and maize crops, have often withered and wilted before maturity due to poor rains.

During the depressed last March-April-May long rains, farmers were advised not to plant maize or beans as the 'thirsty' crops were unlikely to survive the forecasted dismal rain.
“I advise our farmers to plant drought-tolerant crops like cowpeas, green grams, sorghum, millet and pigeon peas that do very well with little rain in Ukambani,” Agriculture CECM Stephen Kimwele said then. Kimwele told the media then that only way Kitui could end perennial food insecurity aggravated by climate change was by avoiding maize and beans.

STORY By JOHN MUSEMBI

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