Although it is expected that farmer education will improve climate risk management, there is only anecdotal evidence that this is true. We wanted to approach and test this in a more rigorous way.
A needs analysis showed that only 30% of farmers believe they are competent or very competent to manage climate risk and, as a consequence, they consider flexible education and training as one way to address this issue. In consultation with farmers, educational resources were developed to cover strategic thinking for managing risk, climate variability impacts, management options, planning and monitoring decisions. Training with this package was delivered to fifteen farmers and consultants over a week, with feedback recorded at the end of each session and post-training. Measurements were made of knowledge, attitude, skills and aspirations (KASA), and followed with assessment of end-result and practice-change.
After this training, farmers improved their competency, from 2.2 (before) to 3.9 (after) on a proficiency scale of one to five. From the feedback, a “problem-based” resource manual was refined to appeal to a broad range of agricultural enterprises such as livestock, horticulture and cropping, and across diverse climates. Farmers can best learn about improving management of climate risk through a variety of ways that include exercises, discussion, reflection and putting their ideas into practice. Actions resulting from the training included development and enactment of strategic plans.
Keywords: Applied Climate Education, Climate Variability, Climate Change, Sustainable Agriculture, Climate Risk