Weather information is very important to farmers from sowing to harvesting, and information on market prices of their products prior to harvest is even more important. The farmers in the Raskot municipality of Kalikot district have been a loss as a result of damages in crops at various stages including the harvest due to unpredictable weather events. The crops were mainly damaged by drought, storm, or hailstone, and the harvest used to decay at times. In addition, the loss was amplified by the middlemen as the farmers had no idea of the market prices of their products.
To address this a mobile SMS-based agri-market information and weather forecasting system has been initiated in the Raskot municipality as an effort for risk reduction and preparedness to the impacts of disasters in monsoon and for pre-informing the farmers about the market prices of the vegetables and other agri-products. The farmers of Raskot Municipality ward numbers 4 to 9 (previously Syuna and Fukut VDCs) are getting pre-information once every three days in their mobile phones as SMS. From this inhabitants of the area are benefitted since the month of June this year by the efforts of Pachal Jharana Rastriya Bikas Samaj (PSND) with the facilitation of Group of Helping Hands (SAHAS) Nepal and with financial support of Helvetas Nepal's Nutrition in Mountain Agro-ecosystem (NMA) project.
SAHAS Nepal facilitated in forming PSND, a community-based network organization (CBNO) from 18 community-based organizations (CBOs) of Raskot seven years ago. PSND has been working actively in the community by leveraging and mobilizing the available resources. This SMS-based agri-market information and weather forecasting system is one of them. The forecast system basically works via 60 farmers who get SMS on their mobile phones every three days, they pass the information to other farmers in the community of about 500 people which further passes to other 1442 households of the area in the municipality.
Along with being prepared for impacts of possible disasters in the monsoon the farmers are also getting to know the market prices of their vegetables and agri-products. The farmers have been able to store and manage their products as per the weather forecast. With this system in operation, the farmers of Raskot are engaged in farming more than ever and their livelihood is improving day by day. For now, the forecast system has been designed for six months, from June through November of 2021 with the financial support of Helvetas Nepal's NMA project. Realizing that the system is very useful and effective to the farmers, sectorial department of the local government, stakeholders, and the farmers are planning to continue it even after the NMA project phases out this November.