J6.4 How much do farmers trust scientific forecasts, and why? Results from surveys in Northeast Brazil

Wednesday, 26 January 2011: 4:45 PM
4C-4 (Washington State Convention Center)
Renzo Taddei, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil; and A. Pfaff, D. R. Nelson, and K. Broad

In Northeast Brazil, a semi-arid region where droughts are strongly correlated to El Niño occurrences, there has been massive investments in forecasting capabilities at the local meteorological agency (FUNCEME). A survey of 150 farmers in six different rural municipalities in the state of Ceará found out that while these individuals systematically declare to have more trust in the forecasting capacities of local and national meteorological agencies than in local traditional forecasting methods, less than 10% of them reported having used scientific forecasts to plan their agricultural activities in 2009 and 2010 (with over 85% having used some form of traditional forecasting method). A second part of the research compares trust grades given by both rainfed and irrigated farmers to meteorological agencies. The collected data shows that irrigated farmers ascribe grades to meteorological agencies that are 40% lower in average than the grades ascribed by rainfed farmers. Using quantitative and qualitative (ethnographic) data, this paper discusses how authority is constructed, and elaborates on its relationship to trust and to issues of salience and relevance in meteorological communication strategies.
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