To build a more climate-resilient agriculture sector, the Government of Rwanda, together with different partners, has embarked on a project that will ensure nearly a million farmers get timely access to essential climate information services.
The project, dubbed Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture, will help transform Rwanda’s rural farming communities and national economy through improved climate risk management, The New Times reports.
According to a statement, the project, which was launched on Wednesday, will build on the ongoing innovations made by the Enhancing National Climate Services initiative (ENACTS), which filled in a 15-year gap in Rwanda’s historical meteorological records.
The gap is between 1994 and 2009 during which the metrological nationwide infrastructure was shattered during the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Agriculture contributes to one-third of Rwanda’s gross domestic production and remains the main source of subsistence for the majority of the country’s population.
Farming employs eight out of ten Rwandans. Despite its importance, the sector remains highly vulnerable to current and projected climate and weather variability.
According to the statement, severe flooding in 2007, for example, caused an estimated USD 22 million in two districts alone.
Recurrent hail and wind storms, heavy rains and prolonged droughts take frequent tolls on agricultural productivity. Such weather events are expected to become more frequent and intensive with climate change, posing a threat to food security.
“In this context, it becomes critical that farmers can access and use reliable climate and weather forecasts,” said Innocent Bisangwa, an environmental and climate change specialist in Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).
“Through this work, we will help them make the best decisions about when and what to plant, how much fertilizer to apply and when to harvest,” Bisangwa added.
According to officials, Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture is unique because it addresses two critical issues: reconstructing Rwanda’s incomplete meteorological data record using cutting-edge climate science, and developing climate information products and services based on the expressed needs of farmers and other end users.