Putting Climate Services Into Farmers’ Hands

As an ‘El Niño’ climate event heats up in the Pacific, the spotlight is on how we can prepare for the weather and climate shifts that may be in store. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a kind of pendulum in the global climate system, swinging back and forth on a 2-7 year cycle, bringing drought to some areas of the globe and heavy rains to others. The ENSO cycle is a major reason why scientists can make forecasts of rainfall and temperature several months ahead of time, known as the seasonal timescale. The stronger the ENSO ‘signal’ in a given year, the more reliable the forecast will be.

As scientists have gained skill in seasonal climate prediction over the past decades, the “push” to support decision making with climate information services has grown, as has the “pull” of user demand for information services as the climate changes.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security supports farmers in an integrated approach to adaptation to climate variability and change. Combined with other climate smart interventions such as rainwater harvesting, agroforestry, and livelihoods diversification, climate information services can help farmers cope with the negative impacts of climate variability and change, and take advantage of good conditions by confidently investing in their fields.

In a new video, the CCAFS Research Theme on Climate Risk Management and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, which is part of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, highlight the importance of climate information services in an integrated approach to adaptation and climate risk management, especially relevant when El Niño is upon us:

While the potential for climate services is great, they don’t yet reach most of the farmers who need them. Key challenges confront efforts to put climate services into farmers’ hands.

The CCAFS blog has the full story on the many ways in which the organization has worked with international partners such as the IRI to provide tailored climate information relevant to the scale of farmers’ decisions.