June 1, 2016 - February 1, 2016
Jamaica experienced one of the worst droughts on record in 2014. The annual agricultural production declined by 30% in 2014 relative to 2013, according to published reports. In response to the drought, the Jamaican Meteorological Service (JMS), in collaboration with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), produced a new seasonal drought-related forecast. The information was provided to more than 300 farmers during June 2014-June 2015 by JMS and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). The farmers received the information through farmer forums, phone text messages, extension agents, and by contacting the JMS. The goal of this study is to evaluate the economic impact of the service provided.
This project studied the impact of the information service using data on a sample of farmers who directly or indirectly participated in the service. An estimate of the economic impact of the information service was made by comparing the distribution of agricultural outcomes of sub-groups of the farmers. Data was collected from 453 farmers located in10 parishes. The survey included 204 farmers who participated in the JMS/RADA-led information service, and 249 farmers who did not participate.
The main findings are the following.
- Farmers in Jamaica have relatively high educational attainments, which indicates they would be relatively more accessible to information services.
- The income and livelihood sources of the Jamaican farmers are not very diversified beyond agricultural-based activities.
- The lack of water, finances, and the uncertainty of water/rainfall/drought (WRD) are the 3 most frequently reported challenges faced by the farmers;
- TV, radio, and the agricultural extension services are the three most commonly reported sources of climate information for farmers. They are also the 3 most reliable and trustworthy sources of climate information. Together, this suggest a relatively low level of awareness about the services that originate with the JMS.
- The impact of drought on agricultural production between June 2014 and June 2015 is substantial. The average reported percent loss in the volume of agricultural production relative to production in the preceding year is 57%, a figure that is much higher than the widely reported loss of 30%.
- The uncertainty of WRD has a substantial adverse effect on agricultural production. For the group of farmers faced with the uncertainty of WRD, the loss in the agricultural production was on average 25% larger relative to the mean loss of 57%. However, in the former group, the reported loss in agricultural production declines with the increasing degree of exposure to the information service. In other words, the losses in agricultural production for the farmers faced with the constraint of WRD would have been much greater if not for the provision of the information service.
- The information service provided through farmer forums and phone text messages were the most effective mechanisms of information dissemination.
- The information service contributed to agricultural production by influencing the agricultural decisions and management, including the timing of planting, sowing and harvesting, the choice of crops, the amount of land cultivated, mulching practices, the use of chemicals and fertilizers, and irrigation.
- There is strong demand for similar climate information services. The farmers would be willing to pay for timely, relevant, and accurate seasonal climate forecast information.
Tauhidur Rahman; James Buizer; Zack Guido