WMO is evaluating the success of a four-year project to improve the provision and use of meteorological information and tools for farmers in West Africa where agriculture and food security is heavily dependent on the weather.
The MetAgri Operational Project embraced National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and farmers and agricultural extension workers in 17 West African countries. Between 2012 and 2015, there were a total of 260 roving seminars with over 10,600 farmers. Over 4,500 rain gauges were given to farmers to teach them basic weather principles and to start to develop a supplemental observation network.
In addition, several NMHSs reported successful partnerships and collaborations with local non-governmental organizations, government ministries and local farmer`s groups. These partnerships helped increase the visibility of meteorological services and led to increased requests for climate services.
A Metagri Operational Project Final Technical Workshop, held from 23 to 25 November in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire discussed the successes, challenges, and lessons learned.
Four countries reported on a pilot study in 2015 evaluating the impacts of providing weather and climate information to farmers. While only a limited number of sites could be examined, preliminary results showed that there is a positive impact on farmer’s decision-making. Examples include selecting the best seed and crop varieties based on seasonal forecasts and applying information about the weather to reduce the amount of weeding in fields and, hence cut farming costs.
More progress needs to be made to achieve gender balance. On average across the 17 countries, only 13% of the roving seminar participants were women, even though women in the region bear great responsibility for food production. However, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde reported that they had participation rates of women farmers of 28 and 35 percent, respectively. The workshop recommended to increase the participation rate of women farmers through the engagement of NGOs focused on women issues within the countries and organizing seminars specifically for women farmers.
The workshop also considered progress in technical training at NMHSs, and improved communication through workshops with the media in 13 countries.
The project was funded by the Government of Norway through WMO with the work being done by the National Meteorological Services of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.
A new project proposal will be presented to Conference of Directors of West African NMHSs in early 2016.