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Lack of accurate climate information and agricultural advisories cause negative impacts of climate change

By DORCAS KABUYA

CENTRE for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development in Southern Africa (CCARDESA) Executive Director, Professor Cliff Dlamini noted that the negative impacts of climate change have been worsened due to the lack of accurate climate information and agricultural advisories reaching farmers.

Professor Dlamini indicated that CCARDESA was prioritising efforts to create and disseminate vital climate-informed decision-support tools for the agriculture sector, which were crucial for improving food systems’ resilience against climate change impacts.

He was speaking when he officially opened the Training of Trainers workshop on Enhancing Forecasting Capabilities and Developing Crop Prediction Models in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“To address this issue, Climate Information Services (CIS) in agriculture aims to provide a comprehensive range of advice on the impacts of climate change on the agriculture sector. This will help prevent, reduce and manage climate risks in agricultural production systems,” he underscored.

Professor Dlamini noted that it was critical to understand that the SADC region, which represented about a third of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population, had been experiencing more frequent and intense tropical cyclones, storms and droughts in recent years.

“Frequent extreme weather events caused by climate change have led to decreased production and productivity and increased food insecurity among rain-dependent smallholder farmers. In 2021-22, six major cyclones occurred, affecting over 2.5 million people in Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zimbabwe alone,” he disclosed.

And Director for Africa Trade Promotions, Winston Makabanyane, from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development in South Africa challenged the trainers to improve the packaging of weather and climate information for purposes of agriculture.

“As the forecast is done, it should be done for the farmers. The information that is derived from the forecast must help the farmers to make concrete decisions on what crops to grow. Predicting weather information must go beyond stating normal to above normal rainfall,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Gillian Kabwe from the Copperbelt University called for integration of climate change in the school curriculum as behavioural change had been observed as a cause of negative response to climate information.

“In climate discussions, the issue has been with behavioural change and not necessarily with acceptance of the scientific information. We need to be dealing with behavioural change so that issues are addressed at an early stage,” said Professor Kabwe.

The participants of the training were Agriculturalists, Academicians, Researchers and Meteorologist drawn from the SADC member states.-NAIS