Walker Institute researchers are putting smallholder farmers at the heart of a new sustainable approach to manage climate risks and increase resilience. PICSA (Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture) couples climate, crop, livestock and livelihood information with tools that farmers can use to decide the best options for them.
Smallholder farmers are key to food security in sub-Saharan Africa where two-thirds of the population depend on small-scale, rain-fed farming as their main source of income. Critical farming and household decisions depend upon how much rain falls, the start and length of the season and the likelihood and timing of dry spells; all of which vary considerably from year to year.
Three elements are at the heart of the PICSA approach:
Using the PICSA climate services approach, Selina Sellas, a farmer and mother from the village of Makoja, Tanzania, calculated that she could lose her maize harvest 7 out of 10 times because of insufficient rainfall. She now plants less maize and has introduced more drought resistant pearl millet.
The program is led by the University of Reading, supported by CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the World Food Programme, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Agricultural Research Institute, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences and National Meteorology Agencies in each country. The project is part of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) Climate Services Adaptation Programme, CASCAID, USAID Climate Services in Rwanda project, and the Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP), supported by IFAD in Lesotho.
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