• Ikechukwu Kalu

How Farmers Can Build Resilience to Climate Change



Drought, erratic weather conditions, a decline in yields, disease outbreaks, and loss of investment and livelihood are some of the risks and impacts of climate change on agriculture globally. While the whole world is facing the effects of climate change, vulnerable farmers bear the brunt of it. Extreme climatic events such as flooding, extreme heat, and drought have led to soil degradation which results in low crop yields; a farmer's worst nightmare. With a decline in productivity comes a decline in profitability leading to the risk of a lower standard of living for a vulnerable population who desperately need to feed their families and rise above the poverty line. It is a nightmare knowing that their livelihood hangs precariously in the balance, owing to factors far beyond the control of these farmers. For the 500 million farming households in the world, it is more like 500 million nightmares stemming from climate change.


The Need to Build Resilience


The continuous growth in the global population vis-a-vis the decline in agricultural productivity and profitability means that poverty and hunger will remain major global concerns. With farmers being increasingly unable to produce enough food for their families with excess food available for their immediate community due to climate change, there is bound to be less food globally and even less money for the farmers. Given their lesser income, it is only a matter of time before the world's farmers begin to seek alternative sources of income and ultimately, abandon the farming profession, which translates into even lesser food production. Seeing that this vicious cycle seems to revolve around food production, one way out is to find a way to improve food production despite the challenges of climate change. This points to an all-important need to build resilience amongst farmers, not just for themselves, but also for the world at large. While the world works together to slow down the rate of global warming, farmers desperately need ways to keep producing food despite the challenges.


How Farmers Can Build Resilience to Climate Change


The average white-collar worker whose workweek begins by 9AM on Mondays is better able to earn his living because he knows exactly when he must be at work. The calendar tells him the day of the week and the clock tells him the time. It is not that easy for farmers. Due to climate change, weather patterns have undergone (and are still undergoing) significant changes. The rains do not come when they usually do, no do they stick around for as long as they used to. The farming seasons keep changing, and for the tropics where 96% of the agriculture is rainfed (and the weather patterns are erratic), the rains call the shots. Just like the white-collar worker has the calendar and clock to guide actions, the farmer needs a reliable guide that will influence timely decision-making for optimum outcomes. Giving farmers the power to know what exactly to expect from the weather ahead of time is a gamechanger that will help build resilience and encourage climate change adaptation.



Best Weather Forecast for Farmer Resilience?



Reliable weather forecasts may not be all farmers need to build climate resilience but it is one critical input that not having could jeopardize farmers’ success notwithstanding whatever other farm inputs they may have. We at ignitia are committed to continuing to provide our digital tropical weather forecast services as a critical crop input to build farmer resilience to shocks by reducing external risks like changing weather conditions driven by climate change and maximizing yields given the capacity, improved seeds, and other resources available to the farmer. Our evidence-based theory of change is that if farmers receive accurate weather forecasting information distributed through ignitia’s SMS and app delivery channels, then they will improve their agricultural practices based on optimal weather conditions like sowing or transplanting seedlings under ideal conditions to boost survival rates, planning on-farm labor for clearing and harvesting to reduce rainy day payouts, applying fertilizers and crop protection products under recommended conditions to boost effectiveness with reduced runoff during heavy rains, and reduced exposure to rain and high moisture during post-harvest handling and logistics steps to reduce mold or moisture-related rejects.


In conclusion, despite the many effects of climate change, it is not only possible but also crucial to build farmers' resilience to climate change. This will ensure that the world has enough food for its teeming population and that the farmers are empowered to make more money to climb above the poverty line into better livelihoods. Ignitia's weather forecasts remain the trusted ally in harnessing the weather in the tropics to farmers' advantage.



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