Weather forecasts project roll-out help women farmers

Weather forecasts project roll-out help women farmers

Authorities have applauded the real-time weather forecasts project roll-out across the country.

The development is helping women farmers win the battle against the impact of climate change.

The UNDP-supported Climate Information and Early Warning Systems Project is working with government through the meteorological department to promote climate smart agricultural practices – to support rural farming families to improve livelihoods through building their resilience to climate change.

The project is providing agro-meteorological services to farmers’ cooperatives including women’s clubs.

Currently, the project is piloting community level early warning systems for extreme weather events in three of Zambia’s 10 provinces worst affected by droughts and floods.

“By providing access to weather and climate related information, the project is helping smallholder farmers cope with weather and climate extremes and increase agricultural productivity,” said Edson Nkonde, Acting Director of the meteorological department.

According to statistics, two-thirds of the country’s labour force is engaged in agriculture, 78 percent of whom are women farmers.

In addition, agriculture accounts for 20 percent of the country’s GDP, and the output feeds over half of its population of nearly 14 million people.

Women bear the greatest burden of these erratic changes in weather patterns, as they are the mainstay of agricultural production.

According to the project, the early warnings enable farmers to shelter their animals and protect their income and families. The collection and distribution of local rainfall information also helps smallholder farmers adjust their crop production methods to changing seasonal precipitation patterns.

The project is using mobile phones and solar powered radios to enable lead-farmers to get weather forecasts while on the move.

Tissa Mwale Adamson, 38, who leads a group of 86 women farmers in the drought-prone District of Mambwe says even barriers such as illiteracy cannot prevent them from using their newly found agricultural techniques and approaches, adding that some of her friends who cannot read the text messages let their children or people from the village to read it and interpret for them in their local language.

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