OVER THE last few years, the AgriMet Department of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has devised an elaborate system to help more than 40 lakh farmers in the country with timely weather-based crop advisories to plan the agricultural cycle. Now this system, which sees extensive usage of information and communication technology, is all set to be replicated in Bhutan and seven other developing countries across the world.
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Dr Nabansu Chattopadhyay, deputy director general (DDG) AgriMet of IMD, said this initiative would see IMD scientists sharing satellite data with Bhutan and other countries, and providing seasonal forecasting for these countries.
This move comes as part of a global initiative by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to help the agricultural sector to deal with the growing threat of climate change in developing nations. The WMO’s Global Framework of Climate Services (GFSC) calls for developed and developing countries to share information and technology to help under-developed countries to come up with climate-resilient agricultural practices and to develop a strong climate information service system.
Farming communities in the developing nations, Chattopadhyay said, were worst hit by the effects of climate change as extreme weather events like flash floods, droughts wreck havoc on them. In case of Bhutan, studies show that extreme weather events like heavy rains, glacial lake outbursts have become increasingly common and threaten to destroy the agricultural cycle for a country where 69 per cent of the population depends upon it. Other than Bhutan, countries chosen for this project include Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Moldova, Dominica, Peru, Colombia and Burkina Faso.
Chattopadhyay said earlier this month in a meeting in Geneva, it was decided that while developed countries like Canada and Norway will help with grants for setting up the weather station, India will provide training and necessary skill-sets to come up with advanced forecasting systems. In particular India’s model for outreach to the farmer’s community through usage of information and communication technology will act as a role model for many of the other countries to follow.
The weather-based crop advisories issued on a regular basis by IMD reaches to around 40 lakh farmers in the country through text messages or through voice messages. Farmers need to register free of cost on the national farmer’s portal with their mobile phone and pertinent messages are streamed through them. Research has shown that farmers have reported significant rise in their income by timely availability of such weather based agricultural inputs.
In case of Bhutan, Chattopadhyay said the IMD will help in developing proper long range forecast models. “Satellite imagery can be exchanged between both the countries and Bhutanese scientists would be trained to develop their own model. In the initial phase, IMD will be forecasting for the country as well,” he said.
The Geneva meeting, he said, also talked about developing a low-cost weather forecasting tool kit for these countries. Installation of economical rain gauges, mechanism to understand parameters like soil moisture will be undertaken in the process. The WMO has called for a meeting early in December to discuss the formalities of this tool kit, he said.
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