It Looks Like Rain

The information from Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Workers is helping Lydia and other farmers in Uganda face new weather challenges.

Nature isn’t as predictable as it used to be for Lydia Kyokunda. Until a few years ago, she knew when the rains would come to water her crops and she used the traditional planting calendar. Severe changes in the weather patterns have now upended those age-old traditions. For Lydia, who lives about 230 miles away from the capital city of Kampala, it made it that much harder to manage her tomato fields. She lost tomatoes when no rains came – and she lost them when rains came unexpectedly.

It seems commonplace to have accurate weather forecasts, but many people still have limited or no reliable access to this information. For farmers in Uganda, who now face drought, hailstorms and floods that often devastate their harvests, it is vital to their daily lives.  Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Worker initiative was designed to address these and other agricultural challenges. Our team works with the Ugandan Department of Meteorology to provide weather forecasts and agricultural advisories that help farmers know when to plant and harvest their crops and how to take care of them.  Over the past three years, we have sent out more than 19,000 weather forecasts to farmers.

Lydia now uses the forecasts to plan her farming schedule and also learned about water harvesting from the advisories . She built a small water trough at the back of her house to collect water during the rainy season and then covered it with an old tarpaulin. During the dry season, she uses a water channel she dug in her garden to take water from the trough to her plants. This simple technique allows her to control her farming patterns all year long and her garden is flourishing. She expects to harvest 16 crates of tomatoes and sell them for about $24 each. It’s a higher price than she usually gets, but she thinks demand will be higher because she grew the tomatoes during the dry season.

In the three years since its launch, the Community Knowledge Worker network has grown to more than 1,000 members, who are mostly poor farmers themselves.  We have helped more than 180,000 farmers in almost 18,000 villages learn new ways to manage their crops and livestock and the best market prices. And we also survey them to collect information that will help organizations that support the farmers improve their services.

Our Community Knowledge Workers are helping to close a critical information gap in Uganda, where more than 80 percent of the people make their living from agriculture. With your support, we can help more farmers get the information they need to earn a better livelihood for their families.