Mapping of actors and agroclimatic information needs of corn and bean crops in pilot sites.

Published online
16 Mar 2016
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Blundo Canto, G. & Giraldo Mendez, D. & Gärtner Vargas, C. & Alvarez-Toro, P. & Perez Marulanda, L.
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This working paper presents the results of the mapping of actors and of agroclimatic information needs in pilot sites in Colombia for two annual crops, fundamental for food security: maize and bush beans. The mapping of the actors that transmit information to farmers, the confidence the latter have in the information provided, and their information needs for decision-making, allows us to understand the broad spectrum of issues and priorities to be taken into account in the production of these crops, and suggest solutions that are useful, relevant, reliable, sustainable and applicable. Under this assumption, we conducted 27 semi-structured interviews with key informants and 12 focus groups with a total of 151 farmers in the departments of Córdoba and Santander. Results show that one of the priorities of farmers is to receive reliable local agroclimatic information that enables them to take decisions on planting, varieties, inputs, soil and crop management, that address climate variability. We find a generalized distrust of official institutions that transmit weather information, and a feeling that institutions are not interested in smallholders. Farmers resort to indebtedness to produce beans and maize, or subsidize production with cash crops, while access to agricultural insurance is limited. The format preferred to receive weather information is text messages (phone) and information through the local radio. The creation of groups of farmers and experts who interact in person or virtually seems a useful and reliable alternative to receive and share information in real time. However, farmers are only interested in adopting farm management changes after a forecast if: (a) the information is local, (b) the information is given by a trusted source such as experts or other farmers, (c) the information is transmitted at the right time for decision-making (d) the effects of taking these decisions are measurable, verifiable and validated, for example, through pilots or results from experimental plots in two consecutive years.

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