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What's needed to help smallholders make better use of climate information?

Andrea_Jimenez's picture

In a recently published Guardian article, readers got to see how information and communication technologies (ICTs) are assisting farmers in developing countries to access agricultural information and change their farming practices.

However, a new Working Paper, Delivery models for climate information in East and West Africa, from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) finds that, even if the use of agriculture information among smallholders is increasing, there is still a significant gap between receipt of information and the actual use of it.

And many farmers still find it difficult to access relevant information for their on-farm decisions. In other words, the mass-production of knowledge and its subsequent dissemination does not alone meet the needs of farmers.

So what is needed to get more farmers accessing and using available information?
To answer this question, the Paper set out to learn more about what’s required in order to help smallholders make better use of information disseminated across rural radio stations, text- and voice messages via mobile phones, TV programs and magazines.

Rural radio is a good way to disseminate agricultural information. However one problem is that radio shows sometimes only cover limited areas and information might not be applicable to a large number of farmers. Photo: F. Fiondella (IRI)A coherent survey of existing and emerging information activities in rural East and West Africa was rolled out. The objective of the survey was threefold: to identify some of the more promising information program activities currently being implemented; to understand some of the gaps in the current networks that distribute information; and to identify factors that might prevent poor farmers from accessing or using climate information.

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Cecilia Schubert is a Communications Assistant at CCAFS Coordinating Unit. Get the latest updates from CCAFS by following @Cgiarclimate on Twitter, and Facebook.