Agriculture is the main economic activity in Kitui County (Figure 1), contributing to food security and generating 87% of rural household income.
Local chicken, goats, mangoes, and green gram (mung beans) were selected as priority value chains under NARIGP because of their economic value, resilience to weather variability and climate change, contributions to household food security, and their position in county frameworks and programs.
Food insecurity is on the rise in the county due to low productivity associated with factors that include pests, weather variability, and prohibitive input prices. An estimated 39.4% of the population is considered food poor. Among children under five, 38.2% are stunted and 4.2% are wasted.
High temperatures and increased risk of floods are experienced during the long rains season, (March-May) while in the short rains season (October-December) the climate is more stable and can potentially be exploited with adaptations such as early maturing crop varieties.
On-farm adaptation options employed by farmers include the use of droughttolerant crop varieties and animal breeds, conservation agriculture, water harvesting techniques, zai pits for composting, conserving and planting fodder, disease surveillance, breeding programs, health management and improvements in post-harvest handling and storage.
Off-farm services that assist farmers include early warning systems, weather advisories, value addition and processing, extension and training, formation of farmer groups and cooperatives, and the provision of market information to farmers.
Many institutions in Kitui County, including the government, research institutions, non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, and the private sector, are involved in the promotion of climate-smart agricultural interventions. Limited finance and human capital and lack of adequate infrastructure are their main constraints.
The county has adopted several national policies geared toward adapting to climate change and its associated risks. These policies provide information to farmers, enabling them to plan, make viable economic decisions, and adapt to anticipated climatic risks.
The adaptive capacity of farmers to engage in climate-smart agricultural practices and the ability of institutions to identify climate risks and take advantage of climate opportunities should be promoted and be expanded in Kitui County.