Handbook on climate information for farming communities: What farmers need and what is available
This guide book (PDF) by the FAO describes the most important weather and agroclimatic products that are available by the National Meteorological Service (NMS) and identifies the most important needs of farmers concerning climate information. Special consideration will be given to the local knowledge used by rural farmers, too often neglected, but a key factor to their ability to cope with climate variability and change. Agricultural productivity in Africa remains far below the standards of the developed world. 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, whereby traditional knowledge accumulated by peasant farmers over last few centuries has been combined with recent scientific knowledge. An additional objective is to improve communication among the NMS staff, in particular, meteorologists and agrometeorologists and to encourage Agro-Pastoral Field School (APFS) trainers and facilitators to be more aware of their respective availability. Furthermore, one of the most important aims is the exchange of agroclimatic information that corresponds to the needs of all concerned, thus facilitating the assessment of the existing climatic risks in farming activities. The integration of the Response Farming in Rainfed Agriculture (RF) approach into Farmer Field Schools is feasibly an effective way to reconcile NMS products with the needs of farmers. RF is a method used for identifying and quantifying rainfall variability at a local level to assess the climatic risks of farming communities. The Climate-Responsive Farming Management (CRFM) approach is an enhanced version of RF that uses modern and digital technologies, such as specific computer software, automatic weather stations, real-time telecommunication and smartphone applications.