Uncertain weather – droughts, floods and erratic rainfall – sometimes forces smallholder farmers in Nepal to abandon agriculture in search of better opportunities. Providing farmers with information on climate change and climate-resilient farming methods could help them to make a viable livelihood for themselves and their families in agriculture. But what is the most effective way to reach millions of farmers, and how can new information and communications technologies (ICTs) help?
The CCAFS program in South Asia supported the Nepal Development Research Institute (NDRI) to carry out a survey to find out which communication channels – radio, TV or mobile phone – would best get information on climate change and climate-smart farming out to households. The survey showed that about 21% of households have a radio, 69% of households own and watch television, and more than 90% of households have mobile phones. As most households have mobile phones, researchers targeted 20 cell phone messages on climate change and climate smart practices for rice, wheat and maize to thousands of farmers in eleven districts. They also broadcast information by radio, through a series of one-minute jingles and public service announcements played during a highly popular farming programme on Radio Nepal.
About 90% of farmers found the mobile phone messages and agro-advisories useful, in fact so useful that around four-fifths (84%) said they would be willing to pay Nepal rupees 10–20 a month to subscribe to a messaging service. Local radio, however, was most effective for disseminating the climate information and agro-advisories widely. Radio Nepal reaches nearly 1.3 million people. Farmers appreciated the messages and advisories because the researchers had taken care to establish farmers’ needs and preferences in order to ensure the information provided was user-friendly and relevant.
“The messages are useful and relevant to me. I have learnt a lot about climate change and would like to practice some the interventions that they have been talking about.” Tej Lal Dumre, leader of a farmers’ cooperative in Kerwani, Rupendehi, Nepal
This initiative shows the promise of information and communication technologies for providing South Asian farmers with information to minimize risks and combat uncertainties surrounding climate change.