Worries about food security due to El Niño

Citizens worry about crop harvest reduction of the agricultural season B ending in June, due to an unpredictable heavy rainfall causing floods in different areas in Rwanda .The floods are described by scientists of the National University of Rwanda (NUR) as El Nino effects.

El Nino, as described on Wikipedia.org website is a climatic system which influences the weather worldwide and is characterized by irregular warming and cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean with consequential shifts in atmospheric pressure called Southern Oscillation ,and changes in wind field. The bind of El Niño-Southern Oscillation, also known as ENSO is always associated with floods, droughts and other weather disturbances in many regions of the world.

In Rwanda where ordinary major seasons are four (two rainy and two sunny), some farmers from Huye and Bugesera districts claim they never noticed ,at right moment, the small sunny season  known as “Urugaryi”, which used to happen between December and February.

“Instead of seeing sunlight to dry our crop harvests of season A, rain erosion and inundation destroyed many new plantations on hills and flooded those cultivated in marshlands. We are now re-planting. This may affect next crop harvests”. Said Mukeshimana Consolate,a resident of Mpare cell of Tumba sector in Huye district.

During January and February somebody could see Mpare hills eroded and rice plantations covered by water in marshlands. This case of flood was the same in Gashora wetland crossed by Akagera River in Bugesera district.

Speaking on Radio Rwanda, on April 3rd 2010, Rwasa Jean Pierre heading the Gashora cultivators cooperative said two thirds of plantations in that wetland were transported by floods due to Akagera over bordering.

According to Prof. Jean Nduwamungu, the Director of NUR Center for Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing (CGIS), this kind of irregular rain fall which also does not respect rainy seasons, is the result of El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

“During this year, it will rain so much because our technology has detected El Nino effects. So giving advice to farmers can be difficult to me, but I can urge to avoid cultivating on slopping lands or low lying ones like in marshlands or wetlands.” said Prof. Nduwamungu. He also reminds to plant trees especially agro forestry and to make terraces as ways of avoiding soil erosion.

Apart from causing long rains in East Africa, El Nino is predicted to last from March to May wetter than normal conditions , and drier than normal conditions from December to February in south-central Africa .The  effects are also more  dangerous in continental parts of the globe that dwell in Oceans especially Pacific, Indian and Antarctica.

In this year of 2010, instances have started to occur in some countries like Guyana and PHILIPPINES where El Nino affecting crop production. In Guyana the Government announces sugar reduction because of water shortage ,while in Philippines the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warns over food security; also because crops die for the drying irrigation.


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