Senegal helps Colombia with farmer-friendly climate forecasts

Photo: A. Jarvis (CCAFS)

Climate forecasts for farmers need to be timely and presented in a format that is easy to understand. Farmer-friendly forecasts can play an important part in helping farmers to reduce the risks they face from an increasingly changeable climate.

In the Kaffrine region of Senegal, CCAFS West Africa has been working with the National Meteorological Agency, the Department of Agricultural Extension and local farmers’ associations to deliver seasonal forecasts to farmers. The farmers also learn how to interpret the data so that they can decide what to grow and when to undertake critical farming tasks. The Senegalese initiative has inspired a similar project in Colombia, four thousand miles away.

Although Colombia generally enjoys higher rainfall than Senegal, the last few years have seen increasing climate variability, with both floods and droughts. In 2013, CCAFS arranged for ten delegates from Colombia and Honduras to visit Senegal in order to see what is happening in Kaffrine. The Latin American visitors included representatives of Colombia’s rice and cereals producers, Colombia’s meteorological institute (IDEAM) and the Honduran Ministry of Agriculture.

Delegates spent time in the field talking to project participants and observing climate-smart farming practices. They then took part in a workshop with their Senegalese counterparts, discussing how climate variability and change is affecting their respective agricultural sectors and sharing their approaches to adaptation. Later, the Kaffrine project coordinator, a climate forecast expert, visited Colombia to explain the activities at a national workshop.

“The whole learning process is being documented, and is embedded within a far-reaching partnership that CCAFS, CIAT and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Colombia have established. The lessons learned are to cross the Atlantic and be implemented in Colombia.” Andrew Jarvis, CCAFS Theme Leader, Long-Term Adaptation

Following the visit to Senegal, the Colombians established a farmers’ climate information project of their own, in three pilot locations. A new cooperation agreement between the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Colombia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development made this South-South exchange programme possible.