Monday, December 16, 2013

Weather info project aims to help African farmers adapt

Kizito Makoye at the Thomson Reuters Foundation: Farmers facing long periods of dry weather and floods have expressed hope that a new climate change adaptation initiative being rolled out in Tanzania and Malawi will spell an end to dismal crop yields.

The Climate Services Adaptation Programme launched in November 2013 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) presents a window of opportunity for African farmers to use scientific knowledge to battle weather challenges.

With $10 million in funding pledged by Norway, the pilot project is expected to equip thousands of farmers in Malawi and Tanzania with skills to combat extreme weather, especially drought and floods. Farmers will be taught ways to boost the resilience of their crops and protect their farms, such as using drought-tolerant crop varieties, changing planting dates to cope with shifting rainfall patterns and planting barrier crops to reduce pest infestations.

Other techniques include using drains to avoid water runoff in their fields, and other harvesting and irrigation systems to cope with fluctuations in the availability of water. Farmers will also learn how to plant tree nurseries to increase carbon sequestration.

“Every one of us has in one way or another been affected by bad weather. When the experts are empowered, they should help us with skills to prevent unnecessary losses,” said Hamisi Ali, a farmer from Matombo village in Tanzania’s Morogoro region.

“This is a pilot project, but the ultimate goal is to see (that) every single farmer across the country is able to use these skills to deal with the effects of climate change,” said Richard Muyungi, director of climate change in the office of Tanzania’s vice president....

A farm in Mwanza, Tanzania, shot by Hansueli Krapf, Wikimedia Commons,  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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