Friday, April 22, 2016

The Value of Climate Services

F2F Volunteer, Armando Milou, trained
banana producers in the Dominican Republic
in disaster risk management practices
by Orli Handmaker, F2F Program Recruiter

Today is Earth Day, a day to honor the planet and its many resources. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is now observed in over 193 countries each year. Here at Partners, we are committed to promoting economic growth in an environmentally sustainable way. Agriculture and natural resource management are inextricably linked to the health of our planet and many Farmer-to-Farmer assignments have an environmental component. Today we are highlighting the value of climate services for properly managing the Earth's resources. 

Every morning, before getting ready for the day, I check the weather on my smart phone. I want to know the weather forecast so I can best prepare for the day: the forecast tells me how many layers I need to wear, what shoes will be most practical for the day, or whether or not I need to bring an umbrella with me. Many people around the world check the weather for the same reasons and many people, like myself, take this service for granted.

The availability of the daily weather forecast on my phone is known as a climate service. Climate services are a key component of disaster risk management and makes climate data, knowledge, and/or information readily available to the public. Furthermore, climate services are tools that "enhance users’ knowledge and understanding about the impacts of climate on their decisions and actions." For me, access to climate services allows me to make trivial decisions, such as whether or not to carry an umbrella or wear a coat. However, to our F2F farmers, information from climate services can have much greater implications.

Beyond the daily weather forecast, examples of climate services include early warning systems, topographical maps, vegetation maps, information sharing platforms, long-term weather forecasts, historical weather data, and projections of future climate conditions. Climate services provide farmers with the necessary information to figure out what crops to plant, when to plant them, and where to plant them. Climate services help farmers adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change by providing information on when and how to irrigate their fields and how to prepare for extreme weather events. Research has shown that access to climate services can decrease crop losses and increase farmers' ability to bounce back after extreme weather events.

F2F volunteer Robert Halman training extension agents in the DR on climate
change adaptation and mitigation practices
Unfortunately, throughout the developing world, there is a lack of available climate services; and farming without access to climate services is comparable to driving with closed eyes-- moving forward with no knowledge of what lies ahead or when to change course. In the Dominican Republic, Partners of the Americas works with organizations that have access to weather and soil moisture stations. F2F volunteers are currently working with these organizations to ensure that information on when to irrigate banana crops and how much water to apply is shared with producers on a daily basis. Future F2F volunteers will also work with these organizations on data analysis and interpretation of meteorological data generated by local meteorological stations. By making this information readily available, farmers are able to make more informed decisions on their farms, thereby contributing to a greater level of economic security.


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