Erratic rainfall patterns as a result of climate change have meant that selection of planting time is a crucial determinant of crop success or failure for farmers in Dodoma region, Central Tanzania.
On 8th and 9th December 2017, the EcoACT project organised a training session for extension officers of Chamwino District and Dodoma Municipal Council. The extension officers were trained on the use of climate and weather information in order to make them better able to support farming communities with accurate advice on when and what to plant. This training is part of the project’s strategy to enhance Institutional Climate Change adaptation capacity in the two districts.
In total, 42 extension staff participated in the training, facilitated by experts from Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA – Dar es Salaam and Dodoma), Agriculture Research Institute (ARI) -Hombolo, and Kilosa (extension officer). Topics covered in the training included the following:
- The impact of climate change on production: trainees were first briefed on terminology surrounding climate change. The session facilitator then explained the causes, different signs and impacts of climate change. Participants were also taught about methods for adaptation and mitigation of climate change.
- Weather services provided by TMA: TMA is the government agency responsible for the provision of Meteorological services: weather forecasts, climate services and warnings and advisory information in Tanzania. Trainees were taught about forecasts (daily, ten-day and seasonal) as well as the agro-meteorological bulletin and seasonal weather forecast. Bulletins for 2017/2018 rainy season for Dodoma and Singida regions were used as demonstrations.
- Short-range to medium-range weather forecast process: Extension officers were taught about how weather is observed through the forecasting process as well as how meterological information is disseminated. Radio, Email, Fax, and the TMA website are all sources of dissemination of weather information in Tanzania.
- Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA): Participants were briefed on the key elements of CSA, including good Agricultural Practices, on-farm rain water harvesting, Soil erosion control, use of drought tolerant seeds, natural resource conservation and reduction of post harvest loses.
- System of Rice Intensification (SRI): SRI is an agroecological methodology for increasing the productivity of irrigated rice by changing the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients. Extension Officers were taught about seed preparation, the planting process and advantages of SRI. To conclude this session, participants were taught simple, local methods for producing and selecting quality paddy seeds.
TMA linked the extension workers with their weather information services, through mobile phone and email. The climate and weather information obtained from TMA will enable extension staff to provide accurate advice to farming communities on when to plant and what to plant. This will support adaption to the adverse effects of climate change and variability.