Weather and climate information for agricultural production and food security
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Weather and Climate Information: For Agricultural Production and Food Security. Simon Gathara Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources Kenya Meteorological Department Agrometeorological Division. Introduction.

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Weather and Climate Information:For Agricultural Production and Food Security

Simon Gathara

Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources

Kenya Meteorological Department Agrometeorological Division


  • Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) operates the following observing stations:

    • 37 Synoptic stations ( 24 Hrs manned by KMD)

    • 14 Agrometeorological stations (8 hrs manned by KMD and some by other institutions

    • 24 Automatic Weather Stations (12 more soon)

    • 1,000 Rainfall stations (manned by volunteers)

    • Temperature stations (manned by volunteers)


Introduction ------Contd

  • In synoptic stations data observed include:

    • Rainfall

    • Temperature

    • Relative Humidity

    • Wind Speed and Direction

    • Sunshine hours

    • Radiation

    • Pressure

Data observed on crops at the Agro-meteorological stations:

Variety of the grown crop;

Stage of development attained by the crop;

General assessment of crop performance;

Damage by pests, diseases and adverse weather;

State of weeding in the farm;

Plant density;

Soil moisture

Types of Forecasts

  • KMD makes forecasts on the following time scales

    • Daily

    • 4 – day

    • 7 – day

    • 10 – day

    • Monthly

    • Seasonal

      In all these cases efforts are made to monitor the socio economic impacts of the expected weather on various sectors.

Agrometeorological Products & Services

  • Products include:

  • 10- Day Crop and Weather Review (Dekadal Bulletin).

  • Monthly Agrometeorological Bulletin (Advisories on Impacts on Agriculture and Livestock Production).

  • Seasonal bulletins. These give advisories on start and end of particular rainy season hence length of growing seasons.

  • Tailor made products as specified by the user.

  • Advisory Services include:

  • Advisories on the rainfall distribution of specified areas;

  • Advisories on risk of planting early or late in the season;

  • Advisories on adverse effects of weather on crops;

  • Advisories on influence of weather on outbreak of crop pests and diseases

  • Advisory services on harvest and post harvest operations;

  • Advisories on pastures and general water status for livestock and wildlife

10- Day Crop Weather Review (Dekadal Bulletin)

This bulletin is Published every 10 days and distributed to users. The bulletin describes the weather of the past 10-days period and its impact on crop performance and also gives the weather outlook for the coming 10 days and expected impacts to agriculture and Livestock production.

Monthly Bulletin

A monthly bulletin is published once a month and it carries information on collected meteorological and Agrometeorological data on climatic conditions, development of the weather and a description of crop performance during the month. Description of the development of pasture and crop water satisfaction within the month.






Left Maize cob:Used neither certified seeds nor Agrometeorological Information

Middle Maize cob: Used certified seeds but did not utilize Agrometeorological Information

Right Maize cob:Used both certified seeds and Agrometeorological Information


Drought results in inadequate pasture & water for livestock and wildlife. This often leads to human and animal conflicts. The pastoral communities are forced to migrate in search of water and pastures.

Prolonged droughts result in land degradation exposing the land to wind and water soil erosion. This leads to soil infertility and desertification.

Severe drought results in death of livestock and wildlife resulting in loss of livelihood of the pastoral communities.

Severe droughts result in crop failure leading to food insecurity and warranting food relief contingencies.

Prolonged drought results in lack of adequate water for domestic use leading to communities trekking for long distances in search of the precious commodity.

The Role KMD Can Play in Provision of Crop Climatic Needs

  • KMD has historical data in some stations ranging from the late years of 1800s to date.

  • Climatic means (averages) including daily, monthly and annuals of all the aforementioned parameters have been established and can be made available if a user needs to compare current values with the long term means

  • Using the long series of rainfall data, mean dates of onset and cessation of the rain seasons have been established and the dates of earliest onset and cessations established. i.e with appropriate standard deviations

The Role KMD Can Play in Provision of Crop Climatic Needs

  • KMD is able to give the farmer (user), the risks associated with dry/wet spells of given lengths if he plants early, at time of onset and late

  • This information is of use to plan whether to intercrop.

  • In as far as thermal needs of a crop is concerned, KMD is able to provide probabilities of given ranges of temperature in order to ascertain some harmful events e.g frost and during growing period to be able to judge whether crops optimum conditions are able to be met if the same is being introduced

The Role KMD Can Play in Provision of Crop Climatic Needs

  • Whereas most of KMD forecasts indicate terminologies such as “above Normal, Below Normal and Normal” with assistance of the Agrometeorological services, the same may be quantified for use in yield estimation.

  • KMD has statistical and crop simulation models which use meteorological and climatological data to monitor crop development.

  • Simple crop specific water balance models are currently being used in KMD to monitor crop development and to an extent estimate yield.

  • KMD’s data being at point value, may not be able to provide estimates over large areas, however with collaboration areal averaging can be done to facilitate such estimates


  • KMD assists agricultural activities through provision of seasonal weather forecasts with long lead times in order that farmers can plan in advance;

  • Tailored information of events within the season can also be made available;

  • There is need for collaborative approach in the provision of meteorological products;

  • Though the KMD Network of stations is sparse, the gaps can be filled through remote sensing;

  • From point values, Crop-weather models can form a compliment in crop monitoring and early Warning;

  • Met dept has a sustained effort to provide marine and oceanography information and Fisheries Dept can be able to access this information for planning.



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