Agro-weather Tools and Capacity Building
Weather Impact has the opportunity to support smallholder farmers and the agricultural sector in Lesotho in becoming more climate-resilient. As part of the Smallholder Agriculture Development Program (SADP), that is funded by the World Bank, Weather Impact develops and delivers agro-weather tools to provide farmers and other agricultural stakeholders with actionable weather and climate information and advisories. For institutes, a multi-year database and daily updated weather forecasts and advisories will be made available through an API and online portal, while the actionable information is disseminated directly through SMS to thousands of farmers. Close collaboration with the Lesotho Meteorological Services (LMS) and Lesotho Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security is essential to making this a success.
Next to the operational delivery of the agro-weather tools and data, the second major focus of this assignment is to strengthen the local capacity. At high level, meteorological and agricultural stakeholders and institutions will receive a one-week intensive training on the development, usage and interpretation of agro-weather data as well as on the usage of analytical software packages. Secondly, lower level trainings will be provided to extension workers in the field and lead farmers to ensure the correct uptake, usage and understanding of the weather and climate information. For this, we work closely with our local consultant. This fits well with Weather Impacts belief that building and strengthening local capacity creates a lasting impact in the hydro-meteorological and agricultural sectors, and benefits the smallholder farmers.
Capacity building week in Lesotho
The first capacity building week took place in February 2023. Colleagues Stefan and Janina were in Qacha’s Nek, a remote but very beautiful mountain village in the east of Lesotho. The success of agro-weather tools is for a large part dependent on the collaboration between the stakeholders. Participants were from various backgrounds, such as the Lesotho Meteorological Service (LMS), the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), Bureau of Statistics and agro-extension officers from across the country.
“A rare set of tools. Intentional use of such would take Lesotho’s Agricultural sector to higher heights”
Overarching message is that all expertise’s are needed for accurate and impactful agro-weather tools: have a good farmer database, provide timely and tailored weather information, combine this with the vast amount of local agronomical information available, and make sure to choose the correct dissemination method (like SMS, an app, Telegram or bulletins). On top of this, automization and operationalization of such processes is needed to make it scalable.
“It has been so great to be in this training and this is going to help us to help our farmers to plant their crops in the right timing in line with weather expectations, and do the cropping activities the right way.”
Read the full post about this capacity building trip on our news page.