Agroclimatic information service in the Bolivian highlands

Sustainable agriculture
The spread of pests and the increased frequency of adverse weather are two of the main elements that damage agricultural production in Bolivia. To address climate risks and crop disease outbreaks promptly and preventively, Swisscontact installed meteorological stations in 2021. The stations collect agroclimatic data and report hyper-local weather forecasts and alerts for an area in the south of La Paz. 

The system is based on the exchange of information. Agroclimatic data is gathered from a group of farmers and analysed, after which forecasts and early warnings are broadcasted back to the community. In so doing, the system has become a collective effort: The entire community along with private and public sector stakeholders are involved. The meteorology service is furthermore affordable, which allows farmers and the community to use it after the pilot phase.

"Through mobile phones and apps, we report when we water our fields and when pests or diseases appear. "
Dayana Morales, farmer
Rafael Lindemann at a handover of a small weather station

The coordinator of the pilot project in the municipality of Palca, Rafael Lindemann, adds: "One of the virtues of this mechanism is that it utilises technology and human resources that are either of local origin or were trained here. Today, it is possible to access weather forecasts in cities at any time. However, these predictions often don’t apply to rural areas, because they involve different factors for analysis. This becomes evident when we talk about pests or plant diseases. It is well-known that the increase in temperature and relative humidity favour the spread of fungi and bacteria, such as mildew or white rot, which are easily preventable."

Preventing the risks of climate change

Marco Patiño in the municipality of Sica Sica

The director of the experimental station in another municipality, Marco Patiño, is also confident that the replication of the mechanism in Patacamaya will benefit potato and quinoa farmers:  

“Now the municipality in collaboration with the Patacamaya Inter-institutional Platform has introduced a mechanism for local agroclimatic risk management in agriculture. Furthermore, we are training students to analyse the data provided by the small meteorological stations and prepare specialised weekly reports that will be distributed through social networks.”

Maya Apaza, one of the people in charge of the video forecasts

The dissemination of these forecasts in the agricultural sector encourages communal preventive action against climate change risks. Maya Apaza, an agronomy student who is responsible for preparing the video forecasts, maintains that “farming families use the information from the forecasts for all their productive activities. What’s more, they write to tell us that our forecasts are accurate and that their neighbours organise themselves to stoke fires in the event of a probable frost or, in their case, provide additional irrigation to their crops in the event of a heatwave.”

A Pilot system for climate forecasting and early warning of pests and crop diseases

Currently, there are three meteorological stations located in the Mantecani area, south of La Paz, about 15 minutes from Patacamaya, and there is a plan to expand the forecasts to more communities.

Franz Miralles, project coordinator at Swisscontact says: “This experiment can be extended to cover the entire country. The first indication of a behavioural change was a more efficient use of water for irrigation, which in turn directly counters the outbreak of pests and diseases.”

This experiment is part of the Inclusive Markets project, which is implemented by Swisscontact in Bolivia and is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Sustainable agriculture
Inclusive Markets in Bolivia
The main objective of the program is "to improve the living conditions of the target population by helping them reduce their poverty situation". The purpose is "to increase the opportunities, capacities and income of the target population".The Inclusive Markets project is implemented in Bolivia with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and...