Context: Changing weather patterns in East Africa are increasingly being felt within agricultural systems, not only by policymakers abut also by small farmers. In Kenya, there is particular concern over tea – a critically important sector for the economy and one that is highly sensitive to climate change. Given its economic importance, tea production in Kenya faces many challenges from the impact of climate change, raising concerns over its long-term viability. Already tea producers are coping with reduced, erratic rainfall, hail and frost as well as rising temperatures that deeply affect yields and productivity. Over 500,000 smallholder tea producers are confronting enormous uncertainty about their livelihoods. The Kenyan government has acknowledged climate change is a real threat to the county’s development agenda and has formulated a framework for intervention.
Objectives: This two-year FAO project on climate change and tea in Kenya has two broad objectives:
(i) Generate evidence of climate change impacts on tea production in Kenya, through a series of biophysical and socio-economic analyses; and
(ii) Provide policy support on climate change and tea to the government as a template for a broader climate-smart agriculture development strategy and a more general climate change policy.
Approach: Because of the complexity of climate change and its multifaceted impacts, the FAO project follows an innovative approach based on three core principles:
(a) it is demand-driven, based on priority needs and supports the project within the current programmes and climate change initiatives;
(b) it relies on evidence-based assessments (biophysical and socio-economic) of climate change impacts; and
(c) it requires the active engagement of relevant stakeholders in project planning and implementation.
National Partners: Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change Unit; Tea Board of Kenya; Tea Research Foundation of Kenya; Kenya Tea Development Agency (smallholder tea producers association); and national research institutions.