In Guatemala, Local Technical Agroclimatic Committees (MTAs) build inclusive dialogue between farmers, extension services, public and private sector representatives, and scientists. The CGIAR Initiative on Climate Resilience helped improve coordination among the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food (MAGA) and other actors involved in climate risk management to strengthen and scale up the MTAs in the country (19 MTAs covering 100% of the national geography), enhancing proactive climate risk management from local to national levels.
As one of the Central American countries most affected by climate variability, Guatemala suffers large agricultural losses annually. Those hardest hit are the small-scale producers who can annually lose up to 70% of their crops, especially during the mid-summer drought season. Drought coupled with vulnerable socioeconomic conditions significantly impacts 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 sector, which often operated 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.
“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
To help address this problem, CGIAR has been promoting the implementation of climate information services (CIS). Climate information had to be adapted to the needs of users to support decision-making in the field and avoid local-level losses. 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 the De-RISK research area of the CGIAR Initiative on Climate Resilience, together with the CGIAR Initiatives AgriLAC Resiliente, Digital Innovation, 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 the Initiative’s 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 to ensure that implementation of climate information services is well-coordinated.
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.
Now, MAGA is increasingly collaborating with stakeholders and farmers’ communities through the MTAs, helping to produce and disseminate recommendations to farmers, who are being empowered to make decisions on their agricultural production based on these recommendations. In addition to building MAGA’s capacity to produce climate information, CGIAR scientists also 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 are contributing to the development of the National Framework of Climate Services, endorsed by the World Meteorological Organization ― a pioneer effort in the Central American region.
The improvement of MAGA’s skills, attitude, and management of climate information, 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 not sufficient to build systemic resilience; strong coordination and partnerships are necessary too.
- Giraldo-Mendez D, Navarro-Racines C, Martínez-Barón D, Loboguerrero AM, Gumucio T, Martínez JD, Guzmán-Lopez H, Ramírez-Villegas J. 2021. Local Technical Agroclimatic Committees (MTA): A detailed guide for implementing, Step-by-Step – Second Edition. Cali, Colombia: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
- Hernández-Quevedo, M, et al. 2022. Monitoring and evaluation of Local Technical Agroclimatic Committees (MTA) in Guatemala – 2022. The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. Rome, Italy.
- Navarro-Racines, C. 2022. Fortalecimiento de las MTA (marco conceptual). presentado en el Taller de Fortalecimiento Institucional para el Abordaje de las Mesas Técnicas Agroclimáticas en Guatemala. Ciudad de Guatemala, Julio 13, 2022. 47 sl.
- Hernández-Quevedo, Mónica and Navarro-Racines, Carlos. 2022. Radio spots with agroclimatic information from the Local Technical Agroclimatic Committees for the ASO 2022 climate forecast (Spanish). figshare. Media.
- CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security. 2020. Two regional organizations and two national governments adopt cross-scale climate risk management approaches. Reported in Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security Annual Report 2020. Outcome Impact Case Report.
Header image: Maize crops (milpa) failed right before harvest in Chiquimula, Guatemala, due to the strong rains brought about by the Julia tropical storm. Photo by Leonardo Medina/ZALF and CGIAR FOCUS Climate Security