Farmers Using Mobile Phones to Access Weather Information in Nyanza Region

The Finance Innovation for Climate Change Fund, through the Climate Smart Agriculture initiative, targeted  smallholder farmers across different counties to increase their adaptive capacity and resilience in constantly changing weather conditions and climate change impact through agro-weather advisory services.  ACRE Africa was a key partner in disseminating weather information to farmers.

In the past, farmers have been relying on their understanding of the weather patterns to make decisions such as planting periods, crops to be planted and varieties to plant. Most farmers listen to the national weather forecast on radio but the information is not very reliable. Most farmers make decisions based on information from the national weather forecast only when there is specific forecast about weather conditions and they see the government actually reacting to that forecast. Such forecasts include El Nino and extreme drought.

With downscaled weather information, farmers were able to seek advice from the agricultural extension officers on the best agronomic practices to ensure higher yields as well as increase production by taking advantage of two planting seasons in a year and signing up for insurance.

Jakonia Opinya, a farmer from Nyanza, planted sorghum three times between September and October 2015. The Sorghum planted in early September failed which led him to plant again in early October 2015. That one failed to grow prompting him to plant for the third time in late October 2015 from which he made good harvest. The farmer’s decision to plant in the month of October was purely informed by the climate weather forecast disseminated by ACRE Africa.

This was the first time that farmers in this region have planted sorghum in the month of October and got a good harvest. Traditionally, the planting season in this region is always in March, when the long rains are expected.