Farmers in Laikipia East District of Kenya rely on subsistence agriculture as their livelihood source which in turn depends on the amount and distribution of rainfall. The main growing season occur during the peak rainfall season, that is, between March and May while the secondary growing season occurs between October and December. Annual rainfall trend between 1976 and 2005 showed that rainfall in Laikipia East District increased a condition suitable for the good subsistence agricultural performance. On contrary, subsistence agriculture in the district performed dismally. This was caused by changing rainfall patterns. The annual numbers of rain days declined but the intensity of rain increased. During the main growing season, the number of rain days declined in March and May but remained constant in April. Rainfall intensities declined in March but increased in April and May. The effect of the changing pattern in rainfall on subsistence agriculture was evidenced by decreased growing period and ineffective rainfall with overall negative effects on yields. This paper examines the changing pattern of rainfall and the associated impact on subsistence agriculture in Laikipia East District, Kenya.
Key words: Climate change, rainfall patterns, growing seasons, subsistence agriculture.
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