Handbook on Climate Information For Farming Communities: What Farmers Need and What is Available

Future climate projections indicate that, in addition to other impacts, there could be a decrease in food security from a global level to the local level, especially among developing countries. In Africa agriculture accounts for 65 percent of the employment and 35 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), but poverty remains high in rural areas where most of the population depends on agriculture. Nevertheless, agricultural productivity in Africa remains far below the standards of the developed world. Over 90 percent of agriculture is dependent on rainfall without artificial irrigation; only 5 percent of the cultivated land in Africa uses irrigation, while in Asia, 38 percent of the arable land is irrigated. The techniques used in Africa to cultivate the soil still fall far behind those that have been adopted in Asia and the Americas, because in Africa there is a lack of irrigation, fertilisers, pesticides as well as access to high-yield seeds. Environmental conditions and management are the main factors determining the availability of agricultural products at the local level (farm, village). The environment encompasses biophysical factors (climate, water, soil, pests, land available, etc.), while management involves decisions taken by the farmers themselves. Similarly, the impacts of climate change will vary substantially depending on individual locations as well as the differences in environmental conditions and management. Climate change adds complexity to the challenge of meeting food demands subject to variable climate, while at the same time maintaining sustainability of agriculture. These challenges underline the importance of implementing sustainable agriculture practices to ensure food security in the future. In order to enhance climate change adaptation and resilience on the part of farmers, these practices should follow the Agroecology principles. Agroecology is a holistic approach to agriculture whereby traditional knowledge accumulated by peasant farmers over last few centuries has been combined with recent scientific knowledge. One of the main objectives of this document is to serve as a guide placing a strong emphasis on the combination of traditional and scientific knowledge. New approaches and methods are subsequently required to manage climate uncertainties at the local level. In addition, by providing tailor-made climate information at the local level, food security at the household level can be improved, especially within smallholder farming communities. Climate information includes different types of weather forecasts and agrometeorology products. Agrometeorology has the threefold objective of studying the agroclimatic resources, assessing their impact (positive and negative) on agriculture and using this knowledge to improve yields. While the progress made has facilitated the task of climate data collection, processing, analysis, interpretation and preparation of information, the challenge of communicating an accurate interpretation of information that meets the needs of the user persists, even today. There is a significant vii gap between users about what information is available, where it can be found and how it can be used in agricultural management decisions. Another main objective of this guide is to provide information that will bridge the gap. 

Source: FAO

This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.

Author: 
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations