Farmers in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, are learning to monitor new climate change-affected patterns in weather and rainfall in a bid to increase output of crops.
“The weather data are essential in decision making and the trainings aim to boost the productivity of our agriculture,” Daouada Konate, head of the National Meteorological Service, said March 7 at a session held at Bingerville, a town near the commercial capital, Abidjan.
Farmers of all crops, including cocoa and locally eaten staples such as cassava and corn, are being trained in the program that will help them learn to match planting times with weather patterns. The service, along with the National Rural Development Agency, will run programs in the western cocoa town of Gagnoa, the central town of Bouake, and in Korhogo in the north.
Output of cocoa in Ivory Coast and neighboring Ghana, which together account for 51 percent of global production, may decline as rising temperatures lead to less rainfall and more intense dry seasons, according to Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture.
“The periods and length of the rain and dry seasons tend to change from what we used to know,” said Bernard Dje Kouakou, an Ivorian agrometeorologist. “Farmers have lost their reference points and it affects their productivity and output.”
Judith Adjadjro, 23, works on her parents’ cassava farm in a village near Bingerville. “I remember seeing my mother planting seeds when we thought the rainy season was about to start, but the rain really came weeks later,” she said. “Knowing better on weather and rainfall data will help us better produce.”
Output of food crops like corn, rice, sorghum and millet are the most affected by the farmers’ lack of knowledge on weather data and their inability to adapt to climate change, said Sidiki Cisse, general director of the Abidjan-based National Rural Development Agency.
About 200 farmers will be trained during the program that will finish at the end of March, he said. Some farmers will be given meters to collect and measure rainfall amounts to send to the meteorological service.
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