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Coffee Resilience in Uganda: Bridging the Gap Between Farmers and Governmental Climate Services


Working with Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS), a German foundation that helpscoffee farmers across the tropics increase their business resilience, I had the chanceto conduct field research in the district of Luwero, in the central region of Uganda.The main aim of this project is to understand whether or not the Climate andWeather Service (CSW) offered by the Uganda National Meteorology Authority(UNMA), is helping farmers in their seasonal and daily decision-making and copingwith natural hazard. The core mission of an efficient CWS is to produce reliableweather and climate forecasting and disseminate this information to users in a timely and understandable manner. Effective climate services should enable climate-smart adaptation strategies that may on one hand, mitigate the impacts of climate-related disasters and on the other, increase farmers’ crops yields and thus, profitability.

The coffee farmers I had the chance to interview are all very attentive climateobservers. Their deeply-rooted climate knowledge has been established by decadesof sensorial observations of all kinds. The farmers’ ability to detect a seasonalchange is a total body experience: tactile, auditive and visual. It is this indigenousknowledge that historically, farmers have used to plan their activities. Thus, theiropenness to other external sources of information should not be taken for granted.Nevertheless, according to their stories, the recent climate variability and change hasmade them lose faith in their own expertise and they are looking for other sourcesof information. As an alternative source of forecast information, the radio is mostavailable, but farmers seem to have lost trust in it, due to its unreliability andsometimes lack of clarity. As a consequence, during the interviews they have allexplicitly asked for help from HRNS.

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