Strategies to cope with Agrometeorological Risks and Uncertainties

Given the high recurrence of extreme agro-meteorological events, the South American region must generate strategies to prevent and mitigate their impacts. In this sense, the agro-economic planning at a short and long term and at a local, regional or national scale, should be formulated more rationally including among its variables, the agro-meteorological and agro-climatic information (WMO 2004). For example, real time climate data can be used to predict production 2 or 3 months in advance, as this provides sufficient advance information for decision making in buying/sales processes and for distribution and commercialization of products, tte agro-climatic analysis on a long term scale makes it possible to carry out crop zonation and identify the most suitable periods for their cultivation, ttey can also efficiently contribute to the planning and management of risks, by balancing the water requirements with water availability in the region.

When putting into operation the strategies one should recognize that the most important element in long term is prevention. Within this principle the following strategies are proposed.

• Implement and strengthen early warning systems for agriculture by establishing and strengthening national and regional monitoring and surveillance systems that allow the identification and dissemination, in advance and in a reliable manner, of the imminent occurrence of meteorological events that may cause harm to the agricultural sector.

• Strengthen international cooperation by implementing and operating these systems by means of surface networks, satellites, communication, exchange of expertise and experts.

• Develop and apply methods to evaluate the vulnerability of the countries by integrating biophysical, socio-economic and historical information and create charts for risks, vulnerability, potential impacts and risks reduction strategies. For this purpose, it is important to carry out some activities to identify the most critical zones concerning floods, droughts and wildfires, so that the necessary actions to reinforce or install early warning systems can be identified.

• Strengthen the capacity to analyze the agro-meteorological risks and uncertainty information.

• Develop scenarios and climate forecasts at the short, medium and long term at the regional level for the agricultural sector in order to define climatic anomalies scenarios related to climate variability or to climate change, in terms of intensity, distribution, seasonality, considering the most representative variables for the agricultural sector in the region.

• Establish and standardize regional methodologies to evaluate the influence of climate variability and climate change in the productions of crops.

• Promote efficient irrigation systems and soil management systems to maximize the use of precipitation and to reduce the risks of erosion.

• Evaluate socio-economic impacts of agro-meteorological risks and uncertainties through a knowledge of the phenology of the plants, an inventory of the most frequent impacts of the different climate variables and possible scenarios of the effects or positive impacts of climate anomalies on crops. It is necessary to have the information on the rise in production costs, loss of infrastructure and goods, loss of agricultural land, reduction of farm income, migration from the countryside to the city and impacts on employment and labor.

• Implement a Regional Information System for agriculture through the generation of data and information for decision making and agriculture planning demands to have coordination mechanisms specially between regional institutions. tte present technologies of communication such as the Internet provide a possible way of support to have access and to use important information for different users in the agricultural sector for prevention and mitigation of agrometeorological risks..

• Participate in the implementation of regional and national strategies to fight against drought and desertification, especially in the matters related to regional plans which up to the current moment have not been developed due to the lack ofinternational cooperation capacity.

• Develop and implement regional training programmes in using, applying and operating geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing applications to monitor the crops, forecast extreme events, carry out agro-climatic modeling, interpret satellite images oriented to agriculture, handle agro-meteorological data and analytical tools, and transfer of methodologies among others.

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