Launched today, World Meteorological Day, the four-year Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture is an initiative by the Rwandan government and partners to provide nearly a million farmers with timely access to essential climate information services in order to manage risk.
It builds on innovations by the Enhancing National Climate Services initiative (ENACTS), which filled a 15-year gap in Rwanda’s historical meteorological records left by conflict.
Using cutting-edge climate science to develop climate information for farmers and others based on their expressed needs, the project aims to transform Rwanda’s rural farming communities and national economy through improved climate risk management.
Agriculture: Risky business
Agriculture contributes to one-third of Rwanda’s gross domestic product and remains the main source of income for rural households, especially women. Yet the sector remains highly vulnerable to current and projected climate and weather variability.
Recurrent hail and wind storms, heavy rains and prolonged droughts take frequent tolls on agricultural productivity in the country. These are expected to become more frequent and intense with climate change, posing a threat to food security.
“The goal is to develop the government’s capacity to provide location-specific, climate information that is relevant for decision makers, while also developing the capacity of agriculture extension workers to bring that kind of information to farmers and assist them in incorporating it into their planning,” said Innocent Bisangwa, an environmental and climate change specialist in Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).
“Through this work, we will help them [farmers] make the best decisions about when and what to plant, how much fertilizer to apply and when to harvest,” he added, by involving farmers from the start of the project.
Four specific outcomes:
- Climate services for farmers.Farmers across Rwanda’s 30 districts will have decision-relevant, operational climate information and advisory services, and be trained to use the information to better manage risk.
- Climate services for government and institutions.Agricultural and food security decision makers in the Ministry of Agriculture and other national and local government agencies and institutions will use climate information to respond more effectively to risks.
- Climate information provision. Meteo-Rwanda will design, deliver, and incorporate user feedback into a growing suite of weather and climate information products and services tailored to the needs of decision makers.
Climate services governance. A national climate services governance process will oversee and foster sustained crop production, assessment and improvement of climate services.
The International Center for Tropical Agriculture is a partner in this project, which is carried out by the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) and Meteo Rwanda, in collaboration with the the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).