Botswana farmers are being taught to make the best of the erratic drizzle by the Department of Meteorological Services.
Climate forecast awareness plays a crucial role in determining the prospects for good harvest in planning for agricultural production. It is on the basis of the projected weather conditions that farmers should be able to decide what inputs would be required and thereby be correctly positioned to determine the way forward.
In order to ensure that such awareness is given due effect, farmers have to be trained in the interpretation and use of weather and climate information.
“For example, in order for the soil to blend well with the fertilizers, and the crops to absorb their nutritional requirements there is need for adequate moisture,” stated Tsele. He added that it follows from his example that without the relevant data it becomes difficult to prescribe both the quantity and cost of the requisite inputs.
Basing on the technological expertise offered by his department, Tsele indicated that it would be possible to determine in time the extent to which the available moisture can influence the results, and therefore the feasibility or otherwise of involving any inputs.
To this end, the Department of Meteorology has established a forum (regular workshops) with the Department of Crop production staff, extension workers as well as farmers through which researched technologies are disseminated to help farmers to take advantage and utilize every drop of the expected short and rainfalls.
Kgasane Tsele, a Meteorologist at the Department of Meteorological Services, said that this is especially important given the present drastic changes in climatic conditions.
Tsele further pointed out that it does make sense any thought of improving outputs in agriculture and sustain farming in the rural areas as a means of livelihood for the majority of people there will remain a pipe dream, unless the relevant departments and stakeholders combine their efforts in forging the way forward.
Any addition to the teachings offered to farmers, there is a method that is prescribed to trap water during rainy times for supplementary irrigation by small farmers who can not afford full irrigation systems for their crops. The method is the product of a research project, titled Case Study on Rainfall Harvest over a Paved Area for supplementary Irrigation under rain fed farming system in Botswana. It is intended through the project to mitigate the impact of climate change and the consequent spells of drought mainly targeting small farmers.
The proposed area for experimentation for the method, according the climate authorities, is a normal farmer’s field of 10 hectares or less. It is recommended that a quarter of the prescribed area be graded and paved. A reservoir must then be constructed at the bottom side of the paved area to collect both dropping and flowing millimeters of water for storage.
A further ? a hectare area adjacent to the paved area (for convenience) which will be irrigated by the water from the paved area (reservoir) every time during dry spells. In addition, a selected space of 50m x 50m (2500 sqm)-knowing that 1mm of rainfall over 1sqm of the paved area surface is set to yield 1 liter of water.
Therefore, by preparing themselves in time, farmers could be able to collect enough water for supplementary irrigation of their crops during periods of dry spells up until the plants are mature with possible high yield or at least a normal yield.
This follows the release of a statement for seasonal rainfall outlook for October-December 2008 and January-March 2009 by the DMS.
According to Tsele, they expect heavy and short rainfalls, the frequency of which is due to increase as result of climate change, and that should be taken advantage of.
The statement drew from the National Climate Outlook Forum which is normally held after the regional climate outlook forum. This year the regional climate outlook forum was held from August 18-28, 2008 in Pretoria, South Africa, in order to come up with a consensus outlook for 2008/2009 rainfall season for SADC region.