Bridging the gap between climate forecasters and farmer communities

Getting climate information to vulnerable farmers is one of the major challenges within climate forecasting. A recent workshop discussed different approaches to overcome this and other issues. Photo: Africa Renewal

Reaching farmers with climate services on a large scale and bridging the gap between producers of information and vulnerable communities are real challenges.

Existing communication networks and organizations that already support farmers are an important foundation to build upon when expanding the reach of climate services for farmers. Trained climate communication ‘intermediaries’ within these networks and organizations have the potential to serve as the missing link.

In June the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) convened a group of experts in Nairobi to share their experiences with this approach.

The group also wanted to identify the training needs of organizations interested in bringing climate services into their ongoing support for farmers. Ultimately, the group agreed upon a structure for a training curriculum that can be adapted to participants’ needs and support up-scaling of climate services for farmers.

Read the full workshop report here: Developing a methodology to communicate climate services for farmers at a scale

The wide range of experts included meteorological department staff, media and ICT experts, extension services, researchers, and development staff from across the globe, all key players in the effort to integrate climate services into existing support systems for farmers.

With an estimated 70 percent of the world’s poor reliant upon agriculture as their primary source of livelihood and sustenance, relevant and actionable climate information and advisory services are crucial to reducing the risks of climate variability.

The use of intermediaries – individuals trained in communication of climate services and provision of recommendations on how the information can be applied has been identified as an efficient way of achieving this.

Recognising the important role of intermediaries, CCAFS and partners are working to develop materials to train intermediaries to effectively fulfil this role. The Nairobi workshop was an important step towards developing materials based on a wide range of experience and expertise.

Get details from the Workshop: Communications Training for Intermediaries

After three days of break out sessions and lively discussions the workshop concluded by successfully proposing an outline of topics, and approaches and resources available for each, that will support training for climate communicators who work with farming communities. Discussions touched on how to identify appropriate intermediaries, the importance of a participatory approach, the role of games to facilitate ‘learning through doing’, and the need to ensure that issues of equity are addressed.

Training materials will include topics such as the basics of weather and climate information and prediction, climate variability and probability, and climate-informed farm decision-making.

Learn more: Predicting the unpredictable: variable forecasts for variable weather

Participatory tools to build a two-way communication process between farmers and intermediaries, understanding and addressing equity challenges in reaching farmers with climate services, and implementation issues will also be addressed.

Workshop participants will contribute their expertise to further developing these materials into a full curriculum guide that can be adapted to participants’ needs and support up-scaling of climate services for farmers.

Written by Sumiko May, Intern at Theme 2: Climate Risk Management.