Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment

Providing useful climate information to subsistence farmers: The case of Timor-Leste


 Stuart Watt 1*, Karen McNamara 1,  Harry Nesbitt 2

Recieved Date: 2017-09-22, Accepted Date: 2017-12-30


Providing information about weather patterns and climate variability directly to farmers has the potential to improve productivity by allowing farmers to make better and more informed decisions regarding their farming practices. For this to succeed, we need to know what the most appropriate and useful information is, how best to transfer it and how to overcome barriers to its transfer. This study fills the gap in our understanding through focus on the small island nation of Timor-Leste, where improving agricultural productivity and overall food security is a key challenge. This is compounded by a rapidly expanding population, poor agricultural conditions, a reliance on small-scale subsistence farming and the impacts of climate change such as increased temperature and altered rainfall patterns. Drawing from six focus groups (n = 29 farmers) in four districts, coupled with stakeholder interviews (n = 6), this study identified seasonal outlooks to be most desired by farmers, followed by shorter-term (daily, weekly) forecasts. Radio was considered as the most effective method to reach smallholder and subsistence farmers, although face-to-face communication was also highly valued by farmers. Language difficulties and low literacy levels, economic circumstances, some general misconceptions about climate change, and limited trust in community leaders were the main barriers to information transfer. If climate information is to be provided to farmers, it is essential that quality and accurate information is delivered, and those involved in liaising and communicating directly with farmers have the education and training to understand and accurately pass on this information.


Climate change, climate variability, communication, food security, subsistence farming, Timor-Leste

Journal: Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment
Year: 2018
Volume: 16
Issue: 1
Category: Environment
Pages: 64-72

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