Drought season in Kenya varies with climatic changes year in year out. But the most hardening-dry season comes between the months of January to March.
According to the National Drought Management Authority’s (NDMA), since 2017 long rain seasons have been drastically changing, extending drought conditions to the month of May. As a result, most families in the country suffer from hunger and lack of food.
Reports show that the number of food insecure people more than doubled – from 1.3 million to 2.7 million, with maize production –being the stable food –reducing in most parts of the country between the years 2014 to 2019.
To deal with such cases of drought, farmers need to cultivate drought resistant crops, which can aid in reducing cases of hunger and malnutrition among Kenyans in arid and semi-arid areas.
These crops have proved to thrive in poor soils and yields high produce regardless of the amount of rain they receive as highlighted below.
Cowpeas or ‘Kunde’
Commonly known as black-eyed pea, cowpea is grown mainly for its edible beans across the world but in Kenya, it has been proved as a vegetable, with its highly nutritious tender leaves and young pods used to make delicious vegetable dishes
The leaves are rich in fiber, have vitamins and antioxidants which are useful in healing diabetic, cardiovascular and overweight conditions.
Growing cowpeas does not require much attention from the farmer and its maintenance is minimal. All a farmer needs to do is to choose the best location to grow the crop, prepare seedbed ready to plant, plant the seeds with correct spacing, water the crop accordingly afterwards and maintain the garden from animal destructions.
Groundnuts grow well in warm areas, and can survive drought or reduced rain but well-drained soils are needed although the crop can also grow well in clay soils.
The best planting seasons for this crop are between the months of February to March and August-September.
Sweet Potatoes have over the years proved to be hunger-sever food, with high nutritious value. The orange fleshed sweet potatoes varieties (promoted by KEPHIS) are rich in vitamin A, an essential component in the body that supports immunity, boosts vision and keeps bones healthy.
Sweet potatoes have a growing period of 3-6 months depending on the variety.
Research has shown that Cassava is a major staple food after maize and rice and being one of the most drought-tolerant crops, it do well on marginal soils.