Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Indigenous Weather Forecasting Systems: A Case Study of the Abiotic Weather Forecasting Indicators for Wards 12 and 13 in Mberengwa District Zimbabwe

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Indigenous Weather Forecasting Systems: A Case Study of the Abiotic Weather Forecasting Indicators for Wards 12 and 13 in Mberengwa District Zimbabwe

Article excerpt

Abstract

Residents of wards 12 and 13 in Mberengwa depend on agriculture as a source of livelihood. They have since developed their own indigenous weather forecasting systems which they have been using in conjunction with meteorological weather forecasts in the planning and execution of their agricultural activities. These systems are used singularly or are complimented with the conventional meteorological forecast from the Meteorological Services Department. The main objective of this research was to identify the abiotic weather forecasting indicators as well as to acquire information on how they are used. Questionnaires, focus group discussions and interviews with key informants were used to collect the data. Key informants were those whose time of residence in the wards was more than 50 years.

Investigations revealed that the residents rely mostly on environmental indicators for planning agricultural activities. Results showed that of the two categories of indigenous abiotic weather forecasting indicators, weather forecasts derived from weather indicators were the mostly used followed by forecasts derived from celestial indicators. There were however differences on the interpretations of the behavioural signs or indicators which were used in the production of the forecasts from these abiotic factors.

The study recommends that further research should be carried out on the application and on the statistical evaluation of the precision of the indigenous forecasts. Attempts should also be made to document the abiotic weather indicators and the behavioural signs from which these forecasts are derived. The establishment of an effective indigenous weather forecasting system as part of a decision support system would go a long way in improving food security for this area

Keywords: indigenous weather forecasting, celestial body indicator, weather indicator, behavioural sign, environmental indicator, drought

1. Introduction

Weather forecasts are an essential input to agricultural production. The forecasts can be processed and disseminated from the Meteorological department which at times is not accessible to most of the rural people. These people rely on weather forecasting indicators derived from their environment to make strategic decisions in their day to day lives especially in agriculture.

Zimbabwe's economy is agro-based, contributing about 70 % of the country's revenue (Ministry of ForeignAffairs Zimbabwe, 2011). Since agriculture is heavily dependent on weather and in particular rainfall and temperature, in areas where rainfall is erratic and inadequate, agricultural productivity becomes highly correlated to weather. Wards 12 and 13 in Mberengwa are in agro-ecological region 4 where rainfall is unreliable and inadequate. Strategic decision making and planning such as when to plant and which crops to grow for a particular year are all effectively done using weather information derived from indigenous forecasts and to a lesser extent, conventional meteorological forecasts. Livestock numbers, water resources and pasture management all depend on weather forecasts and in particular, rainfall forecasts.

Most of the residents of Wards 12 and 13 do not access seasonal and daily weather forecasts from the Meteorological department. Where Meteorological forecasts are received through the radio, lack of skill in interpretation and application of these forecasts becomes a hurdle as this requires Meteorological and Agricultural extension officers. These people need simple and easy to apply agro- meteorological products which are not readily available. Hence these residents are then left with no choice but to use their indigenous knowledge to make weather predictions.

1.1 The Role of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (Iks) and Early Warning Sytems (Ews)

To effectively utilize land and make precise agricultural management decisions appropriate Ews depending on rainfall, agriculture and market data are essential. …

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