Prepare for short growing season, experts warn

On 16 February 2017, Burundi environment ministry organised a workshop on how to mitigate the impact of the climate change. Theophile Ndarufatiye, the assistant to the environment minister, said climate change is a serious problem.

The workshop orginised by the environment minister.

The workshop orginised by the environment minister.

“We are currently witnessing various climatic disturbances all over the world due mainly to the impact of human activity on natural resources”, said the assistant to the minister.

Ndarufatiye also said two phenomena have caused many problems in the country since 2015. One, he said, is La Niña, climatic phenomenon originating from a thermal anomaly of the equatorial waters of the ocean surface. The other is El Niño, a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns.

Among the problems, he cited heavy rains, landslides and floods. “This has affected about 4 million people and 42,000 of them live in camps for the displaced. 99 people have died since September 2015, five homes and 350 classrooms were destroyed”, Ndarufatiye said.

During the workshop, Godefroid Nshimirimana, Head of meteorological forecasting of Burundi Geographical Institute (IGEBU), presented the meteorological forecast for the second growing season, known as “B”. Normally in Burundi, the growing season is divided into two periods, one known as A, starting in September and ending in February, and the second named B, starting in March and ending in June.

However, IGEBU meteorological forecast has shown that the growing season B will be shorter than usual. It will end at the beginning of May instead of June, Nshimirimana said.

Agriculture is the means of livelihood of majority of Burundians. Also, people in Burundi were used to growing seeds during the rainy season. Irrigation technics is strange to them. So, to hear that the rainy season will be short also means poor harvest. During the 2016 year, shortage of rain caused hunger in different provinces of the country.

Claudette Nkurunziza, Director General of the Agricultural Sciences Institute in Burundi (ISABU) said that climate variability will undermine agricultural security if mitigation measures are not taken.

Nshimirimana called on the workshop participants to encourage the population to prepare for a short growing season.

“Farmers should proceed with irrigation in case of lack of rain. But also they have to search for plants which resist drought”, said Claudette Nkurunziza.

Iwacu contacted the Minister of Agriculture for his opinion on this story but he was not available.