Nelly Bassily | March 16, 2009
When we hear about climate change affecting farmers, it’s often about challenges caused by higher temperatures, such as problems retaining soil moisture or difficulty accessing sufficient good quality pasture. Incidents of extreme weather, such as floods and droughts, are also more common. Generally, farmers are finding weather patterns less predictable. But no one in the Labé Region of Guinea could have predicted the near-freezing temperatures that hit the area in January. This story reminds us of the unpredictability of climate change, and the importance of keeping in touch with farmers to learn their experiences first-hand.
You may consider producing a call-in and text-in show, or a locally researched news story that explores how local farmers are affected by climate change, and how they are adapting their farming techniques to cope. Topics to examine include:
1) Local climate change observations:-What differences in seasonal temperature and rainfall patterns have people observed?
-Have floods and/or droughts been more frequent in the last 20-30 years than they were in previous decades?
-What differences in the properties of soil have been seen in recent decades?
-Are there differences in vegetation, including crops, pasture, and wild plants?
2) Local adaptation techniques:
-What crops have farmers struggled with, and which have proven well-suited to these new conditions?
-What sorts of feeding and care techniques have livestock farmers used to cope with new conditions?
-What techniques are farmers using to prevent flooding and make the best use of available water?
-What other steps have farmers taken to maintain food security in the case of severe drought or floods?
The following FRW news stories look at different aspects of climate change, and what farmers are doing to cope:
-“Pastoralists meet new challenges – in the field and in the market” (FRW#52, January 2009)
-“Conservation methods help farmers cope with climate change, high fertilizer costs” (FRW#35, September 2008)
-“Farmers learn to work with an uncertain climate” (FRW#27, June 2008)
-“Livestock farmers adapt to new climate” (FRW#27, June 2008)
-“Farmers test best millet varieties for dry conditions” (FRW#6, January 2008)
-“Re-discovery of traditional crops helps farmers cope with climate change” (FRW#2, December 2007)
In August 2008, Farm Radio International released a package of scripts featuring the winners of the scriptwriting competition African Farmers’ Strategies for Coping with Climate Change. Each script from 84 was written by an African broadcaster with the input of local people, especially farmers. The scripts highlight various African innovations for coping with the effects of climate change. To find these scripts, following the link below and look for scripts that start with the number 84: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/numerical.asp.