Research Articles Local committees help close gap between climate information and better farmers’ harvests

A co-author of a recent IPCC report says that there is still work to be done to bring farmers the climate information they need to adapt to climate change. Research from the Alliance shows that community-based climate risk management committees can help.

Dr. Ana María Loboguerrero Rodríguez, the research director of climate action at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT Alliance says that one of the findings of the IPCC report called the Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability report (approved on February 27, 2022) was that improved design and delivery are needed to improve climate services, that is, the decision-making aides derived from climate data.

The climate services part of the report, which Loboguerrero co-authored, found that in some high- and medium-income countries, climate services have been underutilized. In low-income countries, climate services can increase yields, incomes and promote changes in farmers’ practices.

“We have been saying for years that there has been a gap between climate information and concrete outcomes,” Loboguerrero said, “It's not only about delivering the information in a timely manner, but how you communicate it and the translation of the information.”   

Some examples of strategies to increase the effectiveness of climate services include integrating information from multiple sources at different scales, participatory collection and analysis of climate information and making forecast information available in local languages or as verbal communication for farmers who cannot read.

“Scientists need to communicate better with the users of climate information, it is often hard to understand what the climatologists are saying,” Loboguerrero said, “It's not just enough to produce the numbers, it's about the communication of this information and the use of this information with a clear objective so it can become a true climate service.”

Getting this communication right is vital because over a decade of study has found that farmers in the developing world are among the most vulnerable, economically speaking, to changes in climate. Any tools that can help these farmers to better adapt to a changing world will hopefully soften this blow. 

Climate committees

One of the ways in which climate information can be better communicated with farmers is to have them involved in the process, as well as connecting this information with the implementation of climate-smart agriculture (CSA), an approach that focuses on food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

One of the projects that Loboguerrero has overseen at the Alliance has been the formation of Local Technical Agro-climatic Committees (LTACs), which have been established in local communities that enable farmers to make decisions based on knowledge of how local weather will affect their agricultural production.

Loboguerrero says this is a prime example of the ways in which climate risk can be managed effectively and that in order to implement effective actions to reduce the climate risks in agricultural sectors, it is key to promote conversations between the different climate stakeholders like scientists, technicians, the private sector, decision makers and farmers.

“We started in 2015 with two in Colombia, now we have more than 60 across Latin America,” Loboguerrero said, “They are now in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Chile, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama and El Salvador.”