Abstract

Crop production risk caused by climate variability cannot be managed in the absence of climate information. Despite the use of various communication strategies by rural communities in Tanzania, access and use of agricultural information is inadequate to cope with challenges in crop production. This study aims at assessing farmers information needs, examine communication strategies used and hence recommend information and knowledge sharing strategies for improved decision making. In addition, the study examined how modern ICT used together with tradition methods can reduce risks and improve crop productivity of smallholder farmers. A cross - sectional research design and simple random sampling techniques were used for the study. Interviews using structured questionnaires and focus group discussion were conducted to collect primary data from farmers and extension workers. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics where Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) was used. The findings showed that smallholder farmers require climate, market and agricultural inputs information to make strategic and tactical farm - level decisions for managing climate variability and extreme events. Climate information was found to be important factor for making decisions. Radio was found to be an important communication channel by the respondents in the study area, for communicating climate information. In addition, the respondents used extension officers and fellow farmers to access climate, market and agricultural input information. Mobile phones were noted to be preferred by surveyed farmers for communicating agricultural information. The study concluded that, efforts to improve adaptation capacity of smallholder farmers in rural areas should target the extended use of information technology for improved access to climate information and advisories. Furthermore, development initiatives for managing risks of climate variability should focus on improving climate forecasts issued by Tanzania Meteorological Agent (TMA)