Women sit on a bench during an organized visit of the village of Parana, Mali, on Oct. 12, 2018. Courtesy: Dioumawoye Natou Sangho
Farmers of Mali’s villages of Tèrèkungo and Parana say that in the past few years, their peers got their weather forecast on national radio and television programs.
But the information, broad in nature, failed to capture the specificities of villages.
As a result, they could not rely on the forecasts to decide on what work to do next during the rainy season and to time the first harvests. Also, farmers depended on advice from governmental agricultural agents, who rarely came by.
Waati Yelema Labenw has been changing that equation. In partnership with telephone company Orange Mali, this year the farmers of Tèrèkungo and Parana have had access to weather information tailored to their location through a telephone messaging system dubbed "Sandji", meaning ‘the rain’ in the local language, Bambara.
The project has also given farmers access to resource persons who provide advice on farming techniques over the phone - a system that has been named Sènèkèla, meaning ‘the farmer’.
At the Overseas Development Institute, we believe Sènèkèla and Sandji have helped a great deal in smoothening the process of farming in Tèrèkungo and Parana as well as other villages Waati Yelema Labenw targets - a total of 28.
"This year during the rainy season, we decided our activities according to the rain because there are activities that are favorable to the rain while others are not,” recently said Zama Toumagnon, a young farmer from Tèrèkungo, during a visit of the town.
“This information has allowed us to save time and choose the best activity per day for our farm ... It has influenced our decisions and has had a positive impact on our production of corn, beans and other crops already harvested. Also, we foresee a good harvest for other crops that are not yet harvested.”
“This year, with information and advice as well as training on compost and other activities planned by Waati Yèlèma Lanbèw, stability has been ensured and I have not gone on an exodus."
The farmers are now ready to continue their work as they benefit from the results of the project.
Yaya Bouaré is the BRACED knowledge management engagement leader in Mali. He works for the Overseas Development Institute.