Enhancing Crop Yields: Vanuatu’s Farmers Harness Climate Information
Vanuatu, with its predominantly rural population, heavily relies on agriculture as a vital sector for food production. Recognizing the impact of climate change on farming, the Climate Information Services for Resilient Development Planning in Vanuatu Project (VanKIRAP) has taken proactive steps to equip the country’s agriculturalists with climate information. One of the key initiatives under VanKIRAP is the development of the OSCAR system, which empowers farmers to make informed decisions based on local climate conditions. This article explores how Vanuatu’s agricultural sector is adapting to climate change with the help of the OSCAR system.
OSCAR: Tailored Climate Services for Agriculture:
- OSCAR, short for ‘tailOred System of Climate services for AgRiculture,’ is a novel system developed by the APEC Climate Centre (APCC) in collaboration with the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazards Department (VMGD), the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and farmers across the country.
- The system utilizes computer climate models and locally-recorded climate data to generate agricultural meteorological bulletins, known as ‘agromet’ bulletins.
- These agromet bulletins provide insights into how climate conditions are impacting crop yields across Vanuatu.
Accessing Climate Information:
- OSCAR facilitates access to climate information through multiple channels, ensuring its availability to DARD field extension officers and individual farmers.
- The system will be accessible as a mobile phone app and on the VMGD website, vmgd.gov.vu, in Bislama, English, and French.
- Agromet bulletins will be disseminated via email, social media, national television and radio, print media, and community climate centers established by VanKIRAP.
Workshops and Training:
- APCC, in collaboration with VMGD and DARD, has organized a series of workshops aimed at training officers and farmers on utilizing the OSCAR system and the agromet bulletins.
- The workshops employ a ‘train the trainer’ approach, enabling DARD officers and farmer ‘champions’ to train their peers and local farmers.
- Attendees are equipped with skills to make climate-informed decisions, such as using rainfall data to determine optimal crop planting conditions and estimating crop harvest yields under different climate scenarios.
Positive Impact and Farmer Testimonials:
- Dr. Jong Ahn Chun, the principal investigator for the OSCAR system, expresses satisfaction with the training workshops, stating that the approach has surpassed expectations.
- Farmers who have participated in the workshops, such as Ms. Rebecca Sam Naiu from Tanna Island, highlight the newfound confidence in using climate information to plan for diverse conditions.
Expanding the Reach:
- Following the successful workshops in Port Vila, the APCC team will continue the train-the-trainer workshop series at the Vanuatu Agricultural College in Luganville, Espiritu Santo.
- This extension of training will benefit DARD officers and farmers based on Vanuatu’s largest island, enabling wider implementation of climate-informed decision-making in agriculture.
Vanuatu’s agricultural sector plays a crucial role in the nation’s food security, necessitating measures to enhance its resilience to climate change. Through the VanKIRAP project and the OSCAR system, agriculturalists are gaining access to tailored climate information for improved decision-making. The train-the-trainer workshops organized by APCC have proven successful in equipping farmers with the skills to use climate information effectively. As Vanuatu moves forward in its commitment to addressing climate variability and change, initiatives like VanKIRAP are key to building climate resilience and securing a sustainable future for the nation’s agriculture.