Weather Club - A New Horizon for Smallholder Farmers in the Ganges Delta

Written by: Mister (Mr) Uthpal Kumar, Doctor (Dr) Spyros Paparrizos
Published: Monday, February 24, 2020
Thumbnail Weather Club - A New Horizon for Smallholder Farmers in the Ganges Delta

The peri-urban farmers around Khulna, Bangladesh have established a ‘Weather Club’ at Sanchibunia village with the support of the Waterapps project.

 

The Waterapps project has helped in building farmers’ as well as extension officers capacity for developing climate information services in a co-production way. Following capacity building, the peri-urban farmers have made significant progress in using app-based weather and climate forecasts information for agricultural decision-making. Two recent examples are the cyclone Bulbul’ that hit Khulna on November 10, 2019, and the winter medium-heavy rainfall on January 3, 2020. 

 

During these two events, thousands of peri-urban farmers saved their lives, their households and their farm assets by preparing adequately based on the forecasts’ services that they have received through the WaterApps project well ahead of the weather events. Getting acquainted with  ICT based climate information services, the local farmers decided to establish a weather club as a ‘farmers’ platform’. Currently, the trained farmers of Sanchibunia village are enthusiastic to continue Waterapps climate information services within the club for them and for other farmers as well.

 

Seeing the significance and impact of weather and climate information in their everyday lives, a local farmer has allocated a piece of land for making the weather club room.The farmers that were originally engaged with the WaterApps Farmers’ Field Schools or ‘WaterApps Schools’ as they describe them, took the decision and were also responsible in building the Weather Club. Farmers at Sanchibunia village indicated that just before the Waterapps initiative, they were used to make farming decisions based on their personal perception and traditional understanding. In the beginning, they did not rely on such forecasts information, but after a few months of forecast services, they found forecasts information were extremely useful in their local context (60-70% were accurate). However, currently at the WaterApps study locations, all the trained farmers (above 80%) are using forecasts information more frequently through a smartphone and this has made their agricultural decisions more appropriate and time-specific. Using such forecasts from the Waterapps project, they are able to reduce labour costs, input costs and avoid frequent damages by weather related phenomena.

All the farmers that took part in the ‘WaterApps school’ mentioned that they wish to extend their learning knowledge  through the weather club. They are hopeful that with the use of the club platform they will continue improving their sustainable agricultural practices in the study area. They also reported that establishing more weather clubs and upscaling the project’s effort would be very useful for all peer farmers with similar (local) conditions across the entire delta as weather and climate uncertainties becoming more frequent and unpredictable and farmers cannot longer rely on traditional farm management practices but are in a great need og specific climate information services to improve their adaptive capacity.

 

"WaterApps Weather Club and Agriculture

Clinic Direction: Club’s men and women farmers

Implemented by: Wageningen University, the Netherlands"

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