Knowledge, sourced from both farmers and the science that supports them, is the backbone of climate smart agriculture. As greater climate extremes challenge agricultural productivity, new climate information tools have the power to protect smallholder farmers. To this end, CCAFS develops climate information services that are accessible, equitable and integrated with agricultural advisory services and input markets. The end result is climate information services that support both small-scale farmers and the institutions that serve them.
The CCAFS Climate Risk Management Flagship builds resilience at the farm level by providing climate information services and agricultural advisories directly to farmers. By working with the insurance industry, CCAFS also helps to make weather-based policies available to farmers that can’t otherwise access them. CCAFS works on a broader level too, incorporating climate information into the food security safety net systems that provide support when harvests fail.
Climate Information Services
Climate information services can be a powerful tool in helping farmers adapt to the impacts of climate variability and change. By delivering vital weather and market information directly to smallholder farmers, those farmers are better equipped to both protect themselves against extreme weather events and to take advantage of good conditions.
While many climate services initiatives invest in building the capacity of meteorological services to produce climate information that is relevant for agriculture, a substantial body of research shows that these investments are not sufficient to support smallholder farmers. CCAFS lays out additional challenges that must be met if smallholder farmers are to benefit fully from investment in climate services, and outlines a path forward.
Climate-informed safety nets
Better climate information services open up new opportunities to improve food security safety nets, and to improve the targeting of agricultural development initiatives. But in many developing countries, gaps in climate observational records result in poor quality data, undermining the reliability of the analysis which feeds into food security safety nets.
As such, CCAFS is working with to increase the reliability of climate data and climate forecasts. Through ENACTS, CCAFS is integrating ground-based observations with proxy satellite and other data to overcome issues of data scarcity and poor quality. CCAFS is also working to tailor this information to the needs of national meteorological agencies and stakeholders responsible for delivering food security safety nets.
In highly variable climates where any year could be a bad one, farmers are generally reluctant to invest in seeds and technologies. In such a high-risk environment, credit providers are also reluctant to lend to small farmers, blocking their access to inputs such as improved seeds and fertilizer, which are needed to increase productivity.
To overcome these issues, CCAFS is working with the insurance industry to improve index-based insurance for farmers. In these schemes, insurance payouts are pegged to easily measurable environmental conditions, ensuring that farmers receive payouts faster and reducing the risk which both farmers and creditors face.