How to help farmers prepare for climate change

FArmers prepare for climate change

Floods as well as droughts and heatwaves are increasing and will continue to do so in Africa and South Asia. Farmers and governments need to adapt to this changing climate regime. But adaptation requires decisions to be made under high uncertainty, often with incomplete knowledge. This makes planning and investing in it difficult.

There is an increasing demand for short-term climate information like weather advisories. They are used most commonly to help people decide when to sow or irrigate their crops. For their part, seasonal forecasts are used for decision making by governments and NGOs, and by some farmers. But long-term information, going from seasonal forecasts to decadal climate projections, isn’t being used for planning.

This includes anticipating and preventing disasters.

There is increasing evidence from across many African and South Asian countries that contextual, timely climate information, helps farmers manage the risks they face. This is particularly true when its integrated with other information such as disease outbreaks or market prices and demand. The information can guide decisions on which crops to grow, when to plant them, what seeds to use, how to market the produce, and how to divide resources between farming and other livelihoods.

But there’s less demand for long-term climate information. This is primarily because it tends to be highly uncertain and the scale of long-term climate projections tends to be too coarse. Also, policymakers find it difficult to justify investment and action based on what might happen far into the future. And there is typically a lack of institutional capacity to deal with long-term climate risks.

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