Preface

In many parts of the world climate change and extreme climatic events such as severe droughts, floods, storms, tropical cyclones, heat-waves, freezes and extreme winds are one of the biggest production risk and uncertainty factors impacting agricultural systems performance and management, ttese events direct influence on the quantity and quality of agricultural production, and in many cases adversely affect it. Although agrometeorology particularly deals with production risks and evaluation of possible production decisions, to solve local problems of farming systems the other risk factors have to be taken into account. Inappropriate management of agroecosystems, compounded by severe climatic events such as recurrent droughts, from West Africa to northern Sudan, have tended to make the drylands increasinglyvulnerable and prone to rapid degradation and hence desertification.

In the context of the need for increased agricultural productivity to meet the food and nutritional needs of the growing populations in the world, coping with agrometeorological risk and uncertainties is a very important issue and there are many challenges as well as opportunities as explained in the foreword by Mr M. Jarraud, the Secretary-General of WMO. Accordingly, the Management Group of the Commission for Agricultural Meteorology (CAgM) of WMO recommended the organization of the International Workshop on Agrometeorological Risk Management: Challenges and Opportunities from 25 to 27 October 2006 in New Delhi, India in conjunction with the 14th Session of the Commission for Agricultural Meteorology ofWMO. tte workshop, hosted by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and the Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences of the Government of India, was attended by 188 participants from 78 countries, tte specific objectives of the workshop were:

• To identify and assess the components of farmers' agrometeorological coping strategies with risks and uncertainties in different regions of the world, e.g. extreme climatic events (droughts, floods, cyclonic systems, temperature and wind disturbances etc.), inadequate attention to agroclimatic characteristics of a location, lack of timely information on weather and climate risks and uncertainties, lack of crop diversification etc;

• To discuss the major challenges to these coping strategies with agrometeorological risks, such as reducing the vulnerability of different agro-ecosystems to weather and climate related risks and uncertainties, access to technological advances -- particularly in developing countries —, attention to preparedness and response strategies, to agrometeorological services, to training of intermediaries between NMHSs and farmers etc;

• To review the opportunities for farmers to cope with agrometeorological risks and uncertainties in different parts of the world, e.g. with structural measures (irrigation, water harvesting, microclimate management and manipulation and other preparedness strategies) and non-structural measures (use of seasonal to inter-annual climate forecasts, improved application of medium-range weather forecasts) for strategic and tactical management of agriculture;

• To provide on-farm examples of appropriate coping strategies for minimizing agrometeorological risks and uncertainties and of sustainable agriculture;

• To review, through appropriate case studies, the use of crop insurance strategies and schemes to reduce the vulnerability of the farming communities to agrometeorological risks;

• To discuss and recommend suitable policy options, such as agrometeorological services for coping with agrometeorological risks and uncertainties in different parts of the world.

Altogether there were 8 sessions (including opening and closing session) in the workshop during which 25 invited papers were presented. In the workshop sessions, firstly weather and climate events and risks to farming from droughts, floods, cyclones and high winds, and extreme temperatures were identified through risk and risk characterization. Papers on approaches to dealing with risks highlighted preparedness planning, risk assessments and improved early warning systems which can lessen the vulnerability of society to weather and climate risks. Enterprise diversification, contract hedging, crop insurance, weather derivatives and weather index insurance play a key role in developing agricultural risk management strategies. A special session examined the use of crop insurance strategies and schemes to reduce the vulnerability of the farming communities to risks posed by weather and climate extremes.

A number of strategies were identified to cope with risks, ttese include the use of seasonal forecasts in agriculture, forestry and land management to assist alleviation of food shortages, drought and desertification, tte use of integrated agricultural management and crop simulation models with climate forecasting systems give the highest benefits. Strategies to improve water management and increase the efficient use of water included crop diversification and better irrigation. Especially important was the application of local indigenous knowledge. A combination of locally adapted traditional farming technologies, seasonal weather forecasts and warning methods were important for improving yields and incomes. Challenges to coping strategies were many and identified in several papers. Particularly important was the impact of different sources of climate variability and change on the frequency and magnitude of extreme events. Lack of systematic data collected from disasters impeded future preparedness, as did the need for effective communication services for the timely delivery of weather and climate information to enable effective decision making. Finally a range of policy options to cope with such risks were presented, ttese included contingency planning, use of crop simulation modelling, and use of agrometeorological services.

All the participants in the workshop were engaged in discussions on these papers and developed several useful recommendations for all organizations involved in agrometeorological risk management, particularly the National Meteorologi-

cal and Hydrological Services, ttese have been presented in the final paper in this book.

As Editors of this volume, we would like to thank all the authors for their efforts and for their cooperation in bringing out this volume in time. We are most grateful to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and the Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences of the Government of India for hosting this meeting and to the Secretary-General of WMO for his continuous support and encouragement.

M.V.K. Sivakumar R.P. Motha Editors

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