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Climate change is making weather more unpredictable, but climate information services can help smallholder farmers plan their planting and harvesting effectively.  


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The Challenge

Smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are responsible for managing 80% of the region’s farmland and providing up to 90% of its food. That makes them key to reducing poverty and hunger.

Poverty, insecure land rights, and lack of access to resources such as quality seeds, fertilizer and storage facilities are some of challenges smallholder farmers face.

Their livelihoods are also threatened by climate change. Increasingly scarce natural resources and changing rainfall patterns affect crop yields, income and food security.

In the past, farmers relied on indicators such as the direction and strength of wind, temperature conditions, types of cloud cover, appearance of dew, animal behavior, or lightning and thunder to make decisions about what crops to plant, when to sow and when to harvest.

Climate change means these indicators are now less reliable. Climate and weather patterns are less predictable. Farmers need new sources of information to help them make decisions which will avoid harvest losses and support their income and food security.

“The indicators are misbehaving.”

Smallholder farmer in Niger

The Ingenious Solution

Climate information services empower smallholder farmers. The critical information they provide allows farmers to reduce losses, improve food security and increase income.

“Knowledge is information in context. Data in itself is not information, and requires careful analysis to extract information. Yet without context, knowledge is difficult to construct, and context is best understood when standing in the shoes of those who need the knowledge.”

Prof. Bruce Hewitson, University of Cape Town

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