Assessment of Smallholder Farmers’ Adaptive Strategies on the Effects of Seasonal Rainfall Variability on Maize Yields in Nyeri County

  • Lilly N. Kabata Kenyatta University – Nairobi, Kenya
  • George L. Makokha Kenyatta University – Nairobi, Kenya
  • Kennedy Obiero Kenyatta University – Nairobi, Kenya
Keywords: rainfall variability, maize yield, adaptive strategies, Nyeri County


Maize is the leading food crop produced in most parts of the world and a staple food crop in Kenya. Majority of the maize farmers are smallholders due to reduced land sizes as a result of land fragmentation. Maize farming is rain-fed making it more vulnerable to rainfall variability. Over the years, the farmers have increased their resilience and adaptive potential through indigenous knowledge so as to cope with the climate related risks. However, the increasing rainfall variability, frequency and more severe shocks likely surpass their current adaptive strategies. The study assessed existing adaptive strategies of the small-holder maize farmers in Kieni East sub-County in Nyeri Couny to the seasonal rainfall variability effects. The research adopted a mixed research design. Data was obtained from primary and secondary sources. Primary data was obtained using household structured questionnaires. Data was analyzed using descriptive methods and presented using charts and tables. SWOT analysis analyzed several underlying aspects affecting maize farmers in the sub-County. The study found that the farmers have several specific adaptive strategies to the effects of seasonal rainfall variability at their disposal which include but not limited to the use of varieties of maize seeds, seeking training, water harvesting, use of manure and fertilizers. Farmers also respond to rainfall variability by planting maize varieties that are early maturing and drought resistant as well as engaging in alternative farming activities and other economic activities.


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Map of the study area showing study sites