Assessing Economic Viability of Pasture Enterprise as Adaptation Strategy in Dry Land Ecosystems - A Case of Ijara, Kenya

Mwaura J., Koske J., Kiprotich B.


To adapt to impacts of climate change and variability that outwit traditional coping mechanisms, communities in the semi-arid Ijara, spontaneously took to pasture enterprise strategy. The spontaneity translated into unclear costs and benefits that impeded management of the scarce resources. The study clarified costs and benefits by isolating them for analysis and measuring the strategies’ viability for adaptation. The objective was to measure costs incurred and benefits gained from avoided damages through adoption of the strategy at community farm-level. Costs-benefit-analysis was the design used, complemented by the financial market-driven 15% discounting rates and net present values. Also co-ordinated regional downscaling experiment models were used to ascertain climate performance and projection. Household questionnaire was administered to 240 sample size calculated from 9000 farmer population.  Fifty-seven per cent pastoralists had  embraced agro-pastoralism to incorporate on-farm rain-fed Sudan grass, whose input costs were US$ 1333/ha/season with estimated yields of 1.8 tons/ha of dry matter. Cash flow across three rain-fed seasons netted US$21390, US$45214 and US$67820 per hectare from one, two and three seasons respectively. Overall net present value was US$ 2000p.a. Equal to 50.5% agro-pastoralists produced fodder that cushioned against the high costs on inter-county importation.  Land size inadequacy and the communal tenure  upset 86.26% producers  whereas 47.5%  were concerned that drought raised production costs the most after that lack of skills 53.08%, feed deficit at 30.41%, and diseases 20.41% in that order. Overall benefits from the strategy exceeded costs, making the investment viable for adaptation. Going forward and considering the limited adaptation capacities, disease control and feed deficit costs, policies need to focus on formulating livestock improvement guidelines to include revitalizing traditional grazing management practices. Other pertinent investment opportunities include strategic value-chain linkages and infrastructure, promotion of rain-fed and irrigated fodder production technologies incorporating climate-smart water harvesting, supporting post-harvest feed reserves technologies, reviewing land tenure system and investing in local farmer-friendly weather data collection and application

Keywords: Adaptation strategy, benefits and costs, climate change, pasture enterprise

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