Guatemala suffers large agricultural losses annually as one of the Central American countries most affected by climate variability. Those hit hardest are small-scale producers, who can lose up to 70% of their crops annually, especially during the mid-summer drought season. Drought and vulnerable socioeconomic conditions significantly impact families’ livelihood and food security.
This situation has been exacerbated by coordination challenges within Guatemala’s public sector (e.g., the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food [MAGA]) and between stakeholders in the public and private sectors, which often operate in silos. A coordinated working group needed to be established to create tailored, accessible climate risk management information useful for the end beneficiaries ‒ the farmers.
To help address this problem, CGIAR has been promoting the implementation of Climate Information Services (CIS). Climate information had to be adapted to users’ needs to support decision-making in the field and avoid local-level losses. Local Technical Agroclimatic Committees (MTAs) were designed to meet these needs. Public and private sector representatives participating in the MTAs seek to understand climate variability in their communities and generate recommendations to reduce the associated risks.
Started by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS), MTAs have been strengthened under ClimBeR’s De-RISK research area, together with AgriLAC Resiliente, and Livestock and Climate. There are now 19 active MTAs in Guatemala, spread throughout the country. About 37,000 farmers receive climate information through the MTAs.
As a result of ClimBeR interventions, MAGA is operating in a more coordinated way to strengthen and scale MTAs in Guatemala to help farmers manage climate risks.
For example, MAGA acquired new skills to improve climate information generated for the agriculture sector through the very first national workshop to enhance MAGA’s coordination of the MTAs. With about 50 participants, the workshop sought to support the governance framework development of the MTAs at the national level. Having this framework helps MAGA ensure that climate information service implementation is well-coordinated.
“CGIAR centers, especially CIAT, have been working in Guatemala to mainstream agroclimatic information so people can understand the importance of climate variability and adaptation strategies –– for example, promoting Climate Smart-Agriculture practices that address the needs of male and female farmers.” – Cándida Tacam, Director, MAGA Climate Change Unit
In addition, ClimBeR supported knowledge exchanges between MAGA and other agricultural ministries in Central America, including through the Central American Climate Outlook Forum (CACOF), promoted by the World Meteorological Organization. This forum brings together ministries across agriculture, water, and other sectors to review and discuss regional climate predictions and their implications for vulnerable sectors in Central America and at the national level.
MAGA is increasingly collaborating with stakeholders and farmers’ communities through the MTAs, helping to produce and disseminate recommendations to farmers, who are empowered to make decisions on their agricultural production based on these recommendations. CGIAR scientists helped facilitate a letter of understanding between MAGA and the National Institute for Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology, and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH), to co-produce new climate information products tailored to farmers’ needs. These joint efforts contribute to developing the National Framework of Climate Services, endorsed by the World Meteorological Organization: a pioneering effort in the Central American region.
The improvement of MAGA’s skills, attitude, and climate information management, through support from ClimBeR and other CGIAR scientists, has led to better coordination within MAGA and with other institutions working to enhance climate services in Guatemala. This success with MAGA demonstrates that innovative climate services alone are insufficient to build systemic resilience; strong coordination and partnerships are also necessary.