Travelling climate seminars target African productivity

Friday 14th Sep 2012 by theWeather Club

Image: K Bomer

The last three months have seen around 120 Roving Seminars on Weather and Climate being held in 15 Western African countries such as Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger and Gambia. Organised by The State Agency for Meteorology in Spain (AEMET) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the objective of the METAGRI Project was to help farmers become more self-reliant in dealing with weather and climate related issues. They also hope to increase the interaction between the countries farmers and their National Meteorological and Hydrological Services.

The organization of the workshops follows a successful four year pilot project in West Africa spearheaded by the WMO which trained 5,700 subsistence farmers in how to access and use weather and climate information to maximize yields and minimize risks in regions which are vulnerable to both floods and droughts. This kind of targeted weather and climate information can increase preparedness and lead to better incomes for farmers which in turn can improve their social, and environmental status.

Given the current concerns with climate change and its impacts on crop productivity, there is an urgent need to inform farmers about the projected climate change in their regions and the different adaptation strategies that they may need to adopt to cope. Examples of more general decisions that can be aided by targeted weather and climate information include crop management options, agricultural commodity marketing and policy decisions about future agricultural land use.

Typically the Roving Seminars lasted a day and gathered farmers from a group of villages to a convenient local location. Farmers were then given information in their native language on aspects of weather and climate in the region, including climate change issues and how to improve their risk management. They then had the opportunity to provide feedback and raise concerns on the weather and climate issues they are facing, and the nature of assistance they might need.

It is an example of the kind of thinking that needs to be taking place, where people on the ground are beginning to take the practical measures to deal with the consequences of our changing climate.