Changing trends – from folklores to modern weather information system

“The higher the clouds, the finer the weather,” says Somnath, an old farmer living in one of the rural villages in Nepal, citing an old-fashioned weather forecasting proverb. There are many farmers like Somnath who still follow these folklores for weather forecasting. People who have no access to internet or any other weather forecasting technologies still make forecasts based on their observations of the sky, animals, and nature.
Farmers in Nepal are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood and agricultural production is strongly dependent on the weather. As a result, agricultural profits are heavily affected by the accuracy of weather forecasts. Depending on traditional weather forecasting adages in 21st century when climate change has been changing the weather pattern is very risky for farmers. Taking this into consideration,Practical Answers in Nepal and Jhuwani Community Library and Resource Centre (CLRC) started providing weekly weather forecast to farming communities in Bachhauli Village Development Committee (VDC) in Chitwan district of Nepal from 10 December 2012.
Like Somnath, the farming communities of Bachhauli VDC also used to follow the old proverbs before Practical Answer’s intervention there. The forecasts worked for them sometimes only. It was only when Practical Answers started providing weekly weather forecasts to farming communities that they started getting accurate and dependable weather forecasting.
Jhuwani CLRC is one of the 20 knowledge nodes of Practical Answers in Nepal which has been providing technical information to poor communities. This CLRC provides weather information to the farmers by writing weekly forecasts on a display board and also by printing it on papers. The printed papers are hand-delivered to the farmers by Practical Answers Focal Person.
A staff of Jhuwani CLRC writing weekly weather forecast on the display board.To make the weather information dissemination more wide spread and beneficial to the farmers, Practical Action, Bachhauli VDC and Jhuwani CLRC have been working together.  The local farmers contact Practical Answers’ knowledge node before harvesting, planting, ploughing or doing any agriculture related work that get affected by the changing weather. They come to the library, get weekly weather information and then work according to the weather forecast. This has helped them time their agricultural activities, which has largely reduced the losses due to change in weather.
Jhuwani Library has also started circulating weather information system through Facebook and is seeking funds to pilot this concept through Toll Free Number, FM radio stations and SMS too. Practical Action is working in coordination with Jhuwani CLRC and Bachhauli VDC to make the weather information system more effective by introducing SMS and Toll Free Number systems in the future.
These days, it is very hard to find farmers like Somnath, in Bachhauli VDC, who follow traditional weather forecasting system. If farmers from rural villages are provided with this kind of timely technical information, they won’t any more rely on the ages-old folklores. Instead, the adages will be used as a humour. And of course, the agricultural losses will be minimised.