A low angle of a seed sprouting from a well-kept field. A farmer is seen walking nearby in the background.
In Tanzania, access to and utilization of weather information and advisories for climate-resilient agriculture and food security has been promoted through the USAID-funded “Building Capacity for Resilient Food Security" project.

Digital Access to Weather Information Helps Young Tanzanian Farmers Build Resilience

By Mponda Malozo

Agricultural production in most developing countries is largely dependent on rainfall. Therefore, farmers are highly reliant on timely access to accurate weather information and advisories to adapt to climate change. Indeed, lack of access to such weather information is one of the main challenges facing farmers in achieving sustainable food production and security. Compounding this problem, youth in general are less likely to follow agricultural vocations due to increasing difficulties and uncertainties related to climate risks in farming.

To address this issue in Tanzania, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one of three national partners in the USAID-funded, USDA-implemented activity, “Building Capacity for Resilient Food Security,” has been collaborating with the Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) to enhance national agrometeorological weather bulletins and information dissemination to extension officers and farmers for improved decision-making in agricultural production. As part of this activity, FAO has been particularly focused on encouraging greater youth participation in farming through generation and dissemination of weather information using social media, SMS messaging, and web-based digital platforms.

Image

Screenshot of a webpage showing a message in Swahili surrounded by organization logos including FAO, USDA, and USAID.
An example of seasonal weather forecast advisory in Swahili shared with farmers through social media platforms during the long rains agricultural season of 2019.
The use of SMS as practiced by TMA is a preferred method for farmers and extension officers to receive weather alerts and advisories. However, the system faces high operational costs. For example, at least three times a month, TMA must send information to over 3,000 registered farmers countrywide.
 
As an alternative, and to maintain system affordability and end-user ability to access weather information and advisories, the establishment of more than one digital communication channel was necessary. Internet-based platforms are cost-effective, readily available, and support not only text-based content, but also multimedia items such as videos, audio files and images. The use of digital platforms has become a game-changer by increasing timely access to weather information and advisories.
 
In the face of climate variability and change, the use of weather forecasts and outlooks in preparation for agricultural seasons has become a necessity. Improved access to mobile networks in rural areas, combined with the affordability of mobile phones and data packages, has increased the number of farmers using social media platforms, especially Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. Youth, being the most active group on digital platforms, have been primary beneficiaries through social media, where access to and utilization of weather information and advisories for climate-resilient agriculture and food security has been promoted.
 

Image

A fisherman in a yellow vest holds up large catches of fish in each hand. Fishing boats can be seen in the background.
“Our people are dying in the ocean every year. But agrometeorological information is now saving our lives,” says Hamad, Chairman of the Fishermen’s Committee in Pemba Island, Zanzibar.
FAO has also supported TMA in developing an agrometeorological database—a web-based platform for archiving and analyzing real-time agrometeorological information available to agricultural stakeholders. District extension officers and farmers within selected activity sites have also been trained on how to access, interpret, and use agrometeorological information and advisories for informed decision-making in agricultural production.
 
“The trainings on how to use the agrometeorological information have helped a great deal in coping with the impacts of climate variabilities and changes” says Mohammed Kombo Hamad, Chairman of the Fishermen’s Committee in Pemba Island, Zanzibar. According to Hamad, weather-related fishing accidents in the ocean are unfortunately far too common and have destroyed equipment and claimed the lives of many fishermen. Having access to improved weather forecasts aids fishermen in avoiding dangerous storms.
 
Livestock keeper Kimeni Marabu from Mvomero says, “Now that we are educated about weather information, we need to use the information received to have enough feed and water for our livestock in the season.”

The Building Capacity for Resilient Food Security activity is improving timely and innovative access to and effective use of weather information to not only improve agricultural planning, but also livelihood activities for enhanced food production and security across all age groups in Tanzania.

 
Click here to visit the Tanzania Meteorological Authority's agromet database.
Country
Tanzania
Strategic Objective
Adaptation
Topics
Adaptation, Climate Risk Management, Food Security and Agriculture, Resilience, Weather
Region
Africa
Mponda Malozo headshot

Mponda Malozo

Mponda Malozo is an agrometeorologist at the FAO country office in Tanzania and the focal point for the Building Capacity for Resilient Food Security activity in Tanzania. He worked as an agriculture officer and an environmental officer with the Ministry of Agriculture in Tanzania between 2009 and 2018. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Sciences and Management, and two Masters in Agro-Food Chain and Agro-Environmental Management. He was among the team of experts from the Ministry of Agriculture that developed the National Agriculture Climate Resilient Plan, which is the base for the development of this activity.

More on the Blog

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Markets, Risk and Resilience (MRR Innovation Lab) invites researchers at U.S. universities to submit proposals for research projects that support our mission to generate and transfer into action innovations that will bolster resilience, keeping rural individuals, households, communities and markets in positions of economic viability from which they can sustain and accelerate a path of inclusive agricultural growth.
This blog series features interviews with the winners of the 2020 Climatelinks Photo Contest. This photo, submitted on behalf of the USAID Green Annamites Project, is available on the Climatelinks Photo Gallery.
This photo, submitted on behalf of the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and United Nations World Food Programme, is available on the Climatelinks Photo Gallery.