The Economic Impact of Seasonal Drought Forecast Information Service in Jamaica, 2014-15
Starting in 2014, Jamaica has been in one of the worst droughts recorded since the 1970s. The drought’s effects on rural livelihood and the Jamaican economy have been devastating. According to widely published reports, the annual agricultural production declined by 30% in 2014 relative to 2013. This, along with brush fires, resulted in $1 billion loss for the economy. In response to the drought, the Jamaican Meteorological Service (JMS), in collaboration with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) produced new seasonal drought- related forecast information. The information was provided to over 300 farmers during June 2014-June 2015 by JMS with the help of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). The farmers received the information through farmer forums, phone text messages, extension agents, and by contacting the JMS. While anecdotal stories suggest that the losses in agricultural production might have been much greater if not for the provision of the information service by the JMS, they do not constitute robust evidence regarding the economic benefit of the information service. The goal of this study is to evaluate the economic impact of the service provided.