Farmers seek help in bid to beat climate change

Farmers in the Eastern Africa region this week met in Kigali to devise measures to build climate change resilient agriculture in the region.

Farmers in the Eastern Africa region this week met in Kigali to devise measures to build climate change resilient agriculture in the region.

The two-day meeting, that began on Monday, was held under the auspices of the subsidiary body for scientific and technological advice (SBSTA).  It was organised by the Eastern Africa Farmers’ Federation (EAFF) in partnership with its Rwandan affiliate Imbaraga Farmers’ Federation.

Jean Paul Munyakazi, the legal representative of Imbaraga Federation, noted lack of early warning systems among the major threats to farmers’ resilience to climate change.

“We are not warned about upcoming weather conditions which leaves us counting losses due when disaster strikes. We wish we could have warnings in time,” Munyakazi said.

‘‘Rwanda Meteorology Services should disseminate weather forecasts in time by using means that can easily get to all farmers like Short Messaging Services (SMS) instead of relying on radios and Tv stations,’’ Munyakazi added.

Jane Mutamba, a farmer from Nyagatare District, said climate changes deprive farmers of some essential services.

She said, “It is not easy for us to get loans from banks with our produce as collateral. Banks fear to give us loans because of the unpredictable climate, I believe with technology; we can detect conditions and act accordingly.”

Dr Drake Mubiru, a senior research officer and project coordinator at Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), advised farmers to engage in ‘climate smart agriculture’ to enhance climate change resilience.

“You should practise agriculture in environmental friendly ways by using suitable and useful chemicals, fighting erosion, planting trees and adopting new technologies that can help you shorten the maturity period for your crops,” Dr Mubiru said.

Anthony Twahirwa, the head of agro- meteorology services at Rwanda Meteorology Agency, said the institution has been engaged in providing farmers with essential forecasting not only to help prevent losses related to climate change but also to mitigate disasters.

“We have provided people with weather forecasts whenever they need it. We particulary work closely with the four districts of the Western Province that are prone to disasters where we give them hourly weather forecasting,” Twahirwa said

 ‘Climate-smart agriculture’ approach was established by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as an entry point for essential information on how to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries part of the solution to the negative impacts of climate change.

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