Strengthening Farmers’ Resilience to Climate Change through Improved Access to Agro-Weather Information

Climate change has altered rainfall amounts and patterns, temperature levels, and pests and disease emergence within agricultural systems. Changes related to rainfall amounts and patterns have interfered with the quality and levels of production and farm productivity, leaving small-scale farmers who depend vastly on rain-fed agriculture in utter distress and concerned about their food security. The imperativeness of helping farmers to manage their farm activities in a manner that can allow them to maximize output has been documented across literatures. On matters climate change, experts are convinced that improving access to agro-weather information will empower and improve the quality of decisions farmers make in relation to their farming activities. That such information will allow them to adjust to changes in onset and amount of rainfall promptly and properly, increase their resilience to climate change, improve their adaptive capacity and assure greater agricultural productivity. Improving access to agro-weather information could also serve as stimulant for the uptake of climate-smart agricultural practices.

Nevertheless, knowledge and dissemination of agro-weather information is still very low in Kenya, and as a result, their utilization is equally limited among small-scale farmers (Wamalwa, Mburu & Mang’uriu, 2016). Among the reasons behind the low utilization is ineffective dissemination of farming advisories.

A recent study conducted by Tegemeo Institute to assess “access to and the impact of these agro-weather advisories on productivity and resilience in households, women and other vulnerable groups” for the ALL-IN project revealed important findings regarding the Kenyan agro-weather landscape:

  • Even though sampled smallholder farmers expressed their desire to receive agro-weather advisories, nearly forty-nine percent of them were unwilling to pay recieve these services
  • Demand for agro-weather advisories is determined by the scale of farming, engagement in farming as a business, and self-employment.
  • Most farmers disinclined to pay for agricultural advisories have small land acreages.

The research made the following recommendations regarding future efforts to improve access to agro-weather advisories (particularly via digital messaging) countrywide.

  • Privatization of agro-weather services would exclude farmers who cannot pay to receive advisories, but stand to benefit from this information.
  • Designing pricing mechanisms that accommodate the vast income differences defining smallholder farmers to reach as many beneficiaries as possible is imperative.

Programs aimed at promoting access to agro-weather information among smallholder farmers should prioritize five key elements. First, services providers must ensure timely provision of this information to ensure well-timed application in farming activities. Second, the typical channels of communication for disseminating agro-weather information to small scale farmers are media, barazas, extension service, field days, mobile, internet and farmer groups.  The channel used to disseminate this information must be very effective and highly accessible to farmers. Third, advisory messages must be delivered in a dialect that can be easily understood by target users. Service providers should also avoid use of complex terminologies as their unfamiliarity to farmers with low education levels would render the shared information unusable. Fourth, the advisories should be useful to the farmers. Usefulness of agro-information matters as it affects confidence in advisories and advisory provider. Lastly, providers taking the service privatization route must prioritize affordability for a sufficient number of smallholders to subscribe to receive the advisories.

 

References

Agyekum, T. P., Antwi-Agyei, P., & Dougill, A. J. (2022). The contribution of weather forecast information to agriculture, water, and energy sectors in East and West Africa: A systematic review. Frontiers in Environmental Science10.

ICED (August 22, 2023). New Findings on Farmers’ Access and Willingness to Pay for Digital Agro-Weather Advisories in High ‘Climate Risk’ Areas in Kenya. https://iced-eval.org/new-findings-on-farmers-access-and-willingness-to-pay-for-digital-agro-weather-advisories-in-high-climate-risk-areas-in-kenya/

Sansa-Otim, J., Nsabagwa, M., Mwesigwa, A., Faith, B., Owoseni, M., Osuolale, O., … & Odongo, R. I. (2022). An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Weather Information Dissemination among Farmers and Policy Makers. Sustainability, 14(7), 3870.

Sivakumar, M. V. K. (2006). Dissemination and communication of agrometeorological information—global perspectives. Meteorological Applications, 13(S1), 21-30.

United Nations Climate Action (2023). Use of Agro-Weather Tool for Enhancing Early Warning and Adaptation for Farmers – Kenya. https://unfccc.int/climate-action/momentum-for-change/activity-database/use-of-agro-weather-tool-for-enhancing-early-warning-and-adaptation-for-farmers

Wamalwa, I. W., Mburu, B. K., & Mang’uriu, D. G. (2016). Agro climate and weather information dissemination and its influence on adoption of climate smart practices among small scale farmers of Kisii country, Kenya. J Biol Agric Healthc, 6(10), 14-23.

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