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Lessons from Tamil Nadu

Making Climate Information Communication Gender Sensitive

Increasing variability in weather and climate is a major production risk for farming, especially among smallholders and, in particular, women farmers. Advances in forecast development at finer spatial and time scales as well as communication modes offer greater scope to reduce such risks in farming. The practical experiences in understanding farmers’ perspectives on local weather and climate, and on communicating climate information and advisories with gender sensitivity are shared. The processes involved in creating trust, understanding gendered needs within existing communication networks, and strengthening the social contract between climate experts and farmers in communicating climate information are discussed.

The use of appropriate climate forecast information with a suitable lead time and finer spatial scale is considered as one of the best climate change adaptive risk management strategies. The scientific advances and technical capacity in climate modelling have been improving in recent years, resulting in greater accuracy in predicting weather and climate (Stern and Easterling 1999; Tall 2010). Both, medium range weather forecast (MRWF) and seasonal climate forecast (SCF) are helpful to smallholders for taking informed decisions, managing risk in farming, and maximising opportunities when favourable rainfall is predicted. Several experimental research studies indicate that climate information can support farmers in reducing vulnerability to seasonal droughts and extreme events, and harness opportunities when good rainfall is forecasted (Phillips et al [2001] and Patt et al [2005] in Zimbabwe, Meinke et al [2006] in Australia, India, and Brazil, and Roncoli et al [2009] in Burkina Faso).

In India, an economic impact study on agro-meteorological services, coordinated by L S Rathore and Parvinder Maini (2008), in 15 states across the country found that farmers who were using advisories had 10%–15% higher yield and 2%–5% reduction in the cost of cultivation, when compared to farmers not using weather forecast-based agro-advisories. In spite of its potential benefits in improving adaptive capacities to climate risk, there are social and technical challenges in accessing and using climate information by smallholders across developing and underdeveloped countries.

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Updated On : 27th Apr, 2018

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