Tailored agro-climate services and food security information for better decision making in Latin America

Whilst in other regions of the world there are a range of initiatives related to agro-climatic forecasting, there is a big gap in Latin America, which provides a tremendous opportunity for contribution with a targeted and well-integrated initiative to change in agro-climatic risk management, the elaboration of public policies in decision-making and programmatic support (based on historical analysis, monitoring systems and agro-climatic forecasts) using state-of-the-art approaches. The goal of the project, Tailored Agro-Climate Services and food security information for better decision making in Latin America – AGROCLIMAS, is to help closing this gap, taking into account the needs of the Latin American agricultural sector in terms of agro-climatic information and services in the context of climate variability. The project also evidences the technical capacity to address those needs through the collaboration with strategic partners. Target countries The project will be implemented in Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras. Deliverables Mapping networks: Information flows and decision-making cycles understand demand and gaps Historical data: Learn from the past – climate reconstruction, combine observations with satellite data Food security indicators: household surveys, tracking of climate risk – Grameen Progress out of Poverty Index and gender-sensitive Map rooms: Web site – regional observatory with agro-climatic data, tailored for specific users and updated Agro-climatic forecasts: Provide relevant future information – sentinel site network, combined with local information Dissemination mechanisms: Innovative “formats” of products, “translating” climate into agronomically relevant information

U.N. honors CIAT project that “saved” rice crops in Colombia

Research by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, or CIAT, which saved some 1,800 hectares (4,400 acres) of rice from the drought in northern Colombia, has been awarded a prize by the United Nations as one of the best ideas for dealing with climate change worldwide. The study, which concluded that changing the date for sowing rice crops could improve harvests, was one of the winners of the Big Data Climate Challenge, according to a communique issued by CIAT, whose head office is in the southwestern Colombian city of Cali. The research consisted of using the exhaustive data about crops provided by the National Rice Growers Federation (Fedearroz) and the Colombian Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies Institute (IDEAM) to make an analysis and determine the possible factors that were affecting harvests. “Through a case study in two rice growing areas, we observed that the big climate factor limiting yields is accumulated solar energy during the grain ripening phase,” CIAT researcher and project leader Daniel Jimenez said. The communique added that “in another case study, the analysis of historical weather data revealed that a diverse set of distinct climate patterns occurring over the years…is clearly associated with growing conditions that are favorable or not for production.” “To ensure that crops get optimum radiation, farmers can just shift the sowing date, and to further reduce yield losses, they can adopt rice varieties that are less sensitive to the amount of radiation received,” Jimenez said. The Big Data Climate Challenge was launched last May by Global Pulse, a United Nations initiative that seeks to make use of Big Data systems as a public good for sustainable development, together with the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Team, the note said. The prizes will be awarded at the United Nations Climate Summit next Sept. 23 in New York City. EFE