Smartphone application to aid farmers on expected rainfall onset dates and associated seasonal risks of dry spells in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya

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Joshua K. Kibii
Emmanuel C. Kipkorir

Abstract

Onset of growing season in Uasin Gishu County is estimated by farmers through observation of weather and natural migration of birds. However, rainfall characteristics have become more unpredictable, resulting in replanting due to false onset. This strains majority of farmers who are resource inadequate to meet expenses of replanting maize, the major subsistence crop in the study area. This study aimed at spatial analysis and mapping of rainfall characteristics based on historical rainfall data and gaps filled using CHIRPS sourced rainfall data to determine the relationship between the onset, cessation and length of growing season as well as occurrence of dry spells. Thereafter, dependable onset dates were derived through frequency analysis and also dry spell occurrence was done. Results were used to develop smartphone application to relay in simple and efficient manner site specific information to aid farmers in planning of farming activities, by anticipating long term risks and making appropriate adjustments to increase their farm resilience. The android smartphone application developed will help farmers in Uasin Gishu County to navigate challenges of ever changing weather patterns and lack of access to accurate weather information through relaying of timely climate and weather information. Based on study results, it is recommended that coverage of the application be extended through spatial analysis and mapping of rainfall characteristics at a regional scale.
Key words: Cessation of rainfall, Kenya, length of growing season, planning, spatial analysis

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