Weather changes affect farming season

Sudden weather changes within seconds from hot and dry to rainy season is becoming a common phenomenon today, affecting lives and agriculture.

Sudden weather changes within seconds from hot and dry to rainy season is becoming a common phenomenon today, affecting lives and agriculture.

Seasons in Rwanda have of recent changed compared to 40 years ago.

In the past, the weather was predictable but latest occurrences in weather patterns are now haphazard and less predictable.

According to meteorologists, normally the dry season would run from late May to late September but today, we already have rains in the month of August.

Didas Musoni, the Director of Meteorology in Rwanda says the shift was noted in the 1990s, where the global mean temperature indicated a change.

He says on tracking these signal areas, different catastrophes were observed.

Musoni says that temperatures are now very high in the country.

He says that since sunlight is a source of the temperature, whenever temperature increases, climate changes also take place, though there are major factors that lead to climatic change, for instance, the global warming, zone layer and green house among others.

“Again, carbon dioxide is another factor, which is blanket form-like, it blocks the atmosphere, thus obstructing the rains,” he says. 

Another cause of climate change is industrial pollution gasses, he says.

Geographically speaking, the carbon gasses from industries disturb the formation of rainfall.

Air raises up westward and eastward, and the gasses go to the spread of 60kms and converge at 18kms high.

Musoni explains that because of the wind direction, once something happens in Europe, such as the recent flooding in England, it will affect the African continent as well.

“But for the case of Rwanda, we are not expecting floods like in other countries.”

Precipitation efficiency of clouds depends on the size of the cloud droplets, which in turn depends on the aerosols in the air, such as small particles of dust, smoke, and other kinds of particulate air pollution and natural substances, he says.

“Water also disturbs cyclones and move western direction because of ozone circulation,” Musoni says.

“Now the sun is above the northern direction so the pressure cells are very high. We are going to receive short rains from September till November.”

According to Musoni, the season is good to farmers since soils have received the rains, and they have yet to dry up.

Thus, this helps in cultivation of the land to grow crops and raise animals.

Farmers’ reaction to weather changes

However, small scale farmers are not happy with this change of seasons.

According to the long held knowledge of some farmers, there are specific seasons when they expect to plant and to harvest.

But unfortunately, the weather is now unpredictable, they are lamenting, claiming that their crops and animals are dying.

Mama Tuyisenge, a subsistence farmer at Gikondo sector in Kicukiro District, says the weather changes – notably the heat – has greatly affected her crops.

“It’s really dry and the soils are not favourable for agriculture.”

Dominique Kayihura, another subsistence farmer in Mulindi in Gasabo District, says the weather has completely changed from how it used to be 20 years ago, and is now unpredictable.

She says that far back in the country, months were named according to weather, and it would be exactly like that.

Like, Ukwakira (March). This season was very hot and indeed dry.

“But today, the names of the months no longer hold meaning, because the weather changes every time,” she says.

“It rains, and you cannot tell what the weather will be like tomorrow.”

Since people were not used to these early rains, they were not ready to till the land and therefore the rains may stop before they even cultivate most of their land.

According to the weather expert, Rwanda’s climate change has been influenced by the government law that emphasizes planting trees.

The fact that Rwanda is a mountainous country may help the rain formation.

Trees have been planted in Bugesera, Nyagatare, Gatsibo and other parts of Kayonza in Eastern Province which have been worst drought hit areas in the country but are slowly recovering. 

He says to assess time lag linkages between seasonal rainfalls, the Government should make the general public aware of climate forecasts and sensitize the general public on their usefulness.

Rwandan farmers continue to struggle to adapt to their ways in the face of desertification across the countryside.

Five years ago, climate change triggered off drought in some parts of the country, including Bugesera, which was heavily affected. Inhabitants fled to the neighbouring regions which were less affected. 

Consequently, climatic changes in certain areas over time are normally caused by earth and sun’s processes.

But today, even human interference has great impact on the weather changes.

The disturbance of surroundings (burning of bushes and cutting of trees), and general pollution, for example, have greatly contributed to the negative weather changes.

“Although we don’t have many industries in Rwanda, we have engaged in the practice of deep-rooting forests, thus leaving the land bare,” says Musoni.

Musoni says the reason why Rwanda has survived negative weather changes like terrible drought is because it is near the equator.

As a result, climate does not change much compared to the Mid East.

The rainy seasons tend to begin in March, again in September and late December, but this varies in different areas and it can rain any time of year, especially in the mountainous areas.

This is because, in mountainous areas, it is much colder than on the plains.


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