Highly variable rainfall from year to year makes it difficult for farmers to plan, and the wrong decision on which crop to plant, and when to plant it, may lead to disaster for a household. Part of the solution is improved forecasting and more information about historical climate patterns, together with wider options for adapting to those patterns. The challenge, though, is how to spread the information to farmers and help them apply it in their particular situations.
A team from the University of Reading in the UK, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the World Food Programme, has decided to focus on not just providing locally appropriate climate information, but engaging and training farmers to better understand and use the information in their farming decisions throughout the year. The approach was piloted in Tanzania in late 2013 and is now being scaled up, with the goal of reaching farmers in 10 districts across Tanzania and Malawi by 2016. From 2015, it will also be introduced in several West African countries and Lesotho with support from CCAFS and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
CCAFS. Putting farmers at the centre of climate information services. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Copenhagen, Denmark (2015) 2 pp.