Role of information in farmers' response toweather and water related stresses in the lower Bengal Delta, Bangladesh

Kumar, Uthpal; Werners, Saskia; Roy, Sharmishtha; Ashraf, Sadia; Hoang, Long Phi; Datta, Dilip Kumar; Ludwig, Fulco


Farmers in the lower Bengal Delta around the city of Khulna, Bangladesh, are particularly vulnerable to hydro-climatic variability. Phenomena such as heavy rain, drought and salt intrusion increasingly affect their crop production, with far-reaching socio-economic and environmental impacts. Reliable hydro-climatic information service received in a timely manner could help farmers improve their responses to hydro-climatic variability, thus improving their agricultural decision-making. However, significant challenges persist regarding information uptake and the role of information from the available sources. We designed an explorative research framework combining different participatory methods and analysis of climate data. Our aim was to examine three key research questions: (i) what information is currently available to farmers for agricultural practices and decisionmaking? (ii) what is the perceived quality of the available hydro-climatic information in response to water and weather related stresses? (iii) how does the available information influence farmers' decision-making? We found that farmers had access to information from five main sources: informal contacts, formal contacts, education and training programs, traditional media (like television) and modern ICT tools/social media. However, informal contacts, particularly with peer farmers and private input suppliers, were the farmers' main source, in addition to their own previous experiences. Farmers perceived hydro-climatic variability as high and the quality of available hydro-climatic information as poor. They indicated a need for more accurate, time-specific, trusted and actionable information for improving agricultural decision-making. We conclude that there is high potential and need for hydro-climatic information services tailored for farmers in the study area.