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How a Bangladeshi farmer experiences the WaterApps Climate Service

Written by: Doctor (Dr) Uthpal Kumar, Miss (Ms) Joreen Merks, Doctor (Dr) Spyros Paparrizos
Published: Friday, December 6, 2019
Thumbnail How a Bangladeshi farmer experiences the WaterApps Climate Service

This picture shows a success story of climate service co-production written by a local farmer Mr. Samiron Golder. He lives close to the Soilmari River Delta at Batiaghata sub-district in Khulna, Bangladesh. Mr. Golder’s beautiful Bangla handwriting describes the local setting and weather and agricultural challenges faced by the farmers in the Lower Ganges Delta. This artwork shows the success story of the WaterApps Weather School implemented by the WaterApps Project funded by NWO and coordinated by Wageningen University, the Netherlands. This post translates the main messages of Mr. Golder who expressed his gratitude to the WaterApps Project and the meteoblue weather provider through his beautiful artwork.      

From the perspective of  Mr Samiron Golder

“My glittering golden Bengal I love you. The ambiance of your air and sky seems like playing a flute in my heart-Rabindranath Tagore”. “Mother like this country is my birthplace. Therefore, I love her like my mother”.

Just two generations ago, we had no access to mobile phones and only a few rich families had a television for entertainment. At that time, we were mostly dependent on radio and bulletins for weather information. Those who had no radio used to follow natural indicators, such as the tide in the rivers or the clouds in the sky, to guide them in their daily agricultural activities. Now people have electricity, television and mobile phones. However, until recently, very few farmers knew how to access and use weather information and how agricultural activities could be designed based on this information. Thus, already existing weather information was not used by farmers.

Starting the WaterApps Weather School

This darkness would not have lifted soon had Mr. Uthpal Kumar (PhD research of Wageningen University) and Mr. Dipon Haldar (Sub Assistant Agriculture Officer of the DAE-Batiaghata) not started the Basurabad WaterApps Weather School on June 19th 2019. They trained 26 farmers in our Basurabad village.

Ms Ila Ganguly and her beloved husband Mr Adhir Mondal (a retired college teacher) offered their house as a venue of our school. Here the farmers got used to learn and discuss weather forecast information on a weekly basis. Since then Mr Uthpal Kumar slowly teaches us, like small kids, how to understand and explain weather forecasts (meteograms) for 7-days, 14-days and 3-months.

In the school, each week we provided our feedback on the forecasts, discussed the weather for the upcoming weeks and designed an agricultural advice in the presence of the agricultural extension officer. We also shared information with peer farmers in our villages.  In the beginning, understanding of the forecast graphs was not easy for me with my limited education but later I slowly started to understand. Now meteoblue forecast information has been embedded in my life, without the weather information, my agricultural practices seem incomplete.

Visiting the meteorological station

We also had a visit at the local meteorological station located in Khulna. There we learned how the weather department makes weather forecast based on observed data. I believe all farmers involved in this school have benefited from it for sure and peer farmers have also benefited.

Becoming a modern farmer

As a farmer, my aim is to be engaged with modernization. We should not be afraid of natural disasters, but by being engaged with weather information services we can try to reduce the risks of disasters. We cannot restrict natural calamities. We should just fight against it for our survival. With our many disappointments, the meteoblue forecast information is like a piece of light for us.

Time is changing, challenges are changing, and so our agricultural practices and related perceptions are changing. This is the key message of the WaterApps Weather School.

Finally, the speed of our life is hope. I also live with hope and see the dream that weather information service in my Bengal Delta will be further modernized and become more accurate in the near future. Normal farmers will have access to that information. Modern technology and innovation will come to the farmers. We will reach very far in agricultural production. Disadvantaged farmers will reach in sustainable agricultural practices and livelihood outcomes. Agricultural infrastructures will be sustainable too. We may not win with nature but we could say:

“The water in the sky, the water in the sea;

My GOD if you wish to give us - give us,

What we have you may take away;

But the farmers have their brave souls, with which they do not obey restrictions, with which they do not afraid.”                

Farmer Samiron Golder (right) presents researcher Uthpal Kumar (left) with an artwork to thank him for the climate service

About Batiaghata, Bangladesh

Batiaghata is one of the sub-districts of Khulna, a district located in the southern part of Bangladesh. Village residents in Batiaghata are often poor and vulnerable. Modern facilities hardly reach these villages, even in this era of globalization. This causes development in education, health and agriculture to lag behind. This region is highly dependent on agriculture. It is the main source of income for approximately 95% of the villagers, and has been so for many generations. Most are smallholder farmers who are either landless or possess a little bit of land. Only a few of the villagers are affluent.

Environmental change combined with social change has caused changes in many traditional crops and cropping practices. For example, sesame was the most famous crop of Batiaghata. Accounting for 9000 hectares of cultivated land in Batiaghata sub-district alone only 7 years ago, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE). However, last year this was reduced to about just 250-300 hectares.

The farmers in Khulna are facing multiple challenges in agricultural production and many of them are inevitably leaving their traditional farming occupation. The WaterApps project helps them to use innovations to sustain and expand their agricultural practices so they do not have to leave their valued profession.