Empowering East African Farmers with Weather and Climate Information Services: ECREA's Climate-Smart Strategies for Resilient Agriculture in the Bean Value Chain

Share this to :

The project responds to the urgent need for co-designed Weather and Climate Information Services (WCIS), recognizing their pivotal role in enabling farmers to anticipate and manage extreme events, optimize favorable conditions, and adapt to the ever-evolving climate landscape. However, amidst these efforts, there exists a critical gap in inclusivity, particularly concerning the engagement of women and youth, who are disproportionately affected by climate vulnerabilities.

The project is focusing on four East African countries—Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. It sets out to bridge this gap by strengthening both the supply and demand sides of the WCIS equation. With a keen emphasis on partnership and collaboration, the project leverages the expertise of National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) and strategic alliances with organizations like: IGAD Climate Prediction Applications Center (ICPAC), Shamba Shapeup and iShamba and community radios such as Radio Huguka in Rwanda and FADECO Radion in Tanzania to foster inclusive and accessible climate resilience strategies.

At the heart of the ECREA project lies the recognition of the pivotal role played by the common bean (phaseolus vulgaris l.) in African households. Beans have evolved from a traditional subsistence crop to a staple and market-oriented commodity, becoming instrumental in enhancing food security, balancing gender roles, and increasing income generation across the region. As such, bean production serves as a primary testing ground for the project’s interventions.

Central to the project’s approach is co-production, which prioritizes inclusive partnerships with women, youth, and marginalized groups to ensure that WCIS are diverse, accessible, and responsive to the needs of all stakeholders.

Through a multi-faceted strategy encompassing capacity building, institutional strengthening, and knowledge-sharing, the project aims to empower smallholder farmers to navigate the complexities of climate change with confidence and resilience. This project is not merely about disseminating information, but rather about fostering a culture of resilience, collaboration, and empowerment that transcends borders and generations.

It is against this backdrop that, in the heart of Nakuru, a dedicated team recently met for a transformative training known as the PICSA Master Class, specifically tailored for actors in the bean value chain. The training was led by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in collaboration with the Alliance’s ECREA project. The training employed a cascading approach, starting from Master Classes to the Training of Trainers, ultimately empowering lead farmers to disseminate knowledge on WCIS and other agro-climatic advisory services to their peers in bean production hubs. But what exactly is PICSA, and why is it capturing the attention of farmers across the region?

PICSA, or Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture, is a game-changer for farmers. It’s about giving them the tools they need to make informed decisions based on accurate climate and weather information, locally relevant options for crop and livestock species, and using participatory tools for decision making.

At the training – held from the 29th of April-3rd May at the Agricultural Training Centre in Nakuru – extension officers and lead farmers from four counties in Kenya learned about the 12 steps of the PICSA approach. Each step is designed to help farmers harness a range of information, from climate and weather to crop and livestock data, to plan and make decisions that are right for their farms.

Share this to :