Climate Information Vital for Agriculture
The Agriculture officer with agricultural research and extension division, Sagar Acharya, said that the usage of climate information is minimal in agriculture.
A stakeholders’ workshop on climate services for agriculture in Thimphu was conducted from November 7 to 9 to assess the user’s need of climate services for agriculture, to create awareness on various climate services and to develop recommendations and plans.
The Agriculture officer with agricultural research and extension division, Sagar Acharya, said that the usage of climate information is minimal in agriculture. “Climate and weather data are used only for academic and research purposes by policy makers and researchers.”
A lecturer at the College of Natural Resources (CNR), Tulsi Gurung (PhD), said that awareness among users, especially about facilities such as seasonal forecast, was poor. The awareness about these services through radio programmes, workshops, seminars, and social media were recommended.
Importance of developing agro-climatic services for different zones
She said that there was a need to develop agro-climatic services targeting different zones for better decision-making in agriculture. “Appropriate and timely weather information is important to develop efficient cropping calendar.”
At present, short-term forecasting (72 hours) and one day forecasting is provided by the NCHM.
The capacity to translate weather data for advisory services was found to be lacking. In order to tackle the issue, there is a need for specialists in agriculture to work with NCHM to suit the information and services based on the requirement of the end users.
Tulsi Gurung said that revision of the curriculum of CNR in consultation with NCHM and the agriculture ministry were also required.
Trainings and workshops for the media
Some of the recommendations included training and workshops for the media to understand forecast information in order to disseminate it to the public, further collaboration among stakeholders in research and training to understand and to strengthen coordination, and development of the inventories of the existing stations to make the best use of the available infrastructure and resources.
Currently, there are 20 agro-met stations and about 60 manual stations in the country.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) and Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) could share climate services and products with NCHM.
Defining the roles and responsibilities of the agriculture department, NCHM, and Department of Disaster Management (DDM) in disseminating the weather information were also recommended.
“The role of the department of agriculture and NCHM in the dissemination and understanding of climate services were not clear,” Sagar Acharya said.
One of the resource persons from Ariana Consulting Engineers, Yahya Abawi (PhD), said that a feedback mechanism was important in understanding the information NCHM provides to the agriculture department or DDM. “NCHM as a provider of information needs to understand how other agencies interpret the information.”
About 40 participants from different sectors attended the three-day workshop organised by NCHM, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and IMD.
By Rinchen Zangmo (This article has been edited for the Bhutan Times)