Strategiesto Improvethe Agrometeorological Services to Cope with Risks and Uncertainties

Sivakumar et al. (1998 and 2000) emphasized that the agrometeorological information plays a valuable part not only in making daily and seasonal farm management decisions but also in the management of disasters, risks, and uncertainties. Earlier, Das (1999) expressed that it may not be possible to prevent the occurrence of natural disasters, but agreed with the observations of Sivakumar et al. (2004) that the

STATE : ANDHRA PRADESH CROP: PADDY-1 VERIETY : IET-1444,ILR-1396,ILR-2508 SOIL: SANDY LOAM,

BLACK LOAM

DISTRICTS : NELLORE, PRAKASAM.CHITTOOR IRRIGATED DURATION : 105- 120 DAYS

STATE : ANDHRA PRADESH CROP: PADDY-1 VERIETY : IET-1444,ILR-1396,ILR-2508 SOIL: SANDY LOAM,

BLACK LOAM

DISTRICTS : NELLORE, PRAKASAM.CHITTOOR IRRIGATED DURATION : 105- 120 DAYS

RAIN

> 40 MM/ DAY > 100 MM/ DAY ANY RAIN

Duaration Of wet Spell

> 30 MM FOR 5 DAYS > 50 MM FOR 7 DAYS

Cloudy Weather

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Life history mean dates of important epochs of crop growth

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Months | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUGUST | SEPTEMBER

Fig. 25.2. Crop Weather Calendar

CROP WEATHER CALENDAR

Fig. 25.2. Crop Weather Calendar resultant negative and disastrous effects can be reduced considerably through the agrometeorological services, ^erefore, the role of agrometeorological services is crucial for advance planning in the management of disasters, risks, and uncertainties because of the significance of their impact and influence on the overall well being of humanity and livestock. Murthy and Stigter (2003) stated that the agrometeorological services play a key role in strategic and tactical planning and efficient monitoring of crops and is a growing recognition of the importance of operational agrometeorological services in all the sectors mentioned above around the world.

Improving the agrometeorological services

To cope with the risks and uncertainties pertaining to agriculture, forestry, rangeland, environment, and livestock, agrometeorological services must develop strategies to improve management and operational decisions in an efficient manner. Some of these strategies have been examined by CAgM since 1999.

Agrometeorological characterization, using differentmethodologies tte purpose of agroclimatic characterization is to identify those aspects of climate which distinguish a region from the nearby regions and to draw inferences on the influence of climatic factors on crop production, tte hypothesis is that under given climatic conditions there are similarities in crop growth and development, there by the yield in that homogenous region. According to Reddy (2002), four decades ago, Chang observed that the failures or disappointing results of agricultural development projects in various parts of the world including projects to produce pineapples in Philippines, sugar in Puerto Rico, peanuts in East Africa, and rubber in the Amazon basin may have been largely due to failures in proper agroclimatic classification. It was also stressed that adequate assessment of agroclimatic resources is an essential prerequisite for proper planning of agricultural development. tte homogenous crop zone boundaries with relevant crops and cropping patterns could be delineated with different methodologies through appropriate and scientific agrometeorological characterization, tte resultant agroecological zoning offers the potential for developing strategies for efficient and sustainable natural resource management, including sustainable management of agriculture, forestry, rangeland, environment, livestock, etc. tterefore, it is imperative to give top priority to agroecological zoning in agrometeorological services. In addition, agricultural risk zoning is an essential component of natural disaster mitigation and preparedness strategies. Given the complex nature of databases, GIS and remote sensing should be employed in the future in any studies to facilitate strategic and tactical applications at the farm and policy levels.

Advice on microclimate management tte climate of a region determines the extent of adaptability of a crop (or animal) species and weather influences its day to day growth. In turn, the crops not only modify their own microclimate and weather within their canopies but also the soil underneath them due to emission of long wave radiant energy. According to Robert (2000), any modification in soil agricultural practices or ground cover vegetation may have consequences for the global carbon cycle via their impact on the dynamics of soil organic matter. Conversely, changes in composition of atmosphere may bring about changes in certain soil characteristics. Stigter et al. (2004) give the examples of parkland agroforestry and other stabilizing intensive management of scattered or clumped or allayed trees for microclimate management and manipulation to cope with temperature changes in the northern China Plain, ttere should be more research at the micro level into the physical behaviour of crop growth like profiles of solar radiation, temperature, wind speed, vapour pressure, carbon dioxide demand, and moisture regimes to develop better agricultural mitigation strategies at the micro level against risks and uncertainties. Micromete-orological knowledge about energy exchange and transports at the surface has useful applications in agriculture, tte changes on a small scale are relatively easy to initiate and control, tterefore, studies also on increasing surface absorptive power, exposure through site selection, and artificial or natural shading for reduction of day length need to be encouraged.

Advice on crop phenology using recent climatic variability data and agrometeorological information

Response farming is defined as a method of identifying and quantifying the seasonal rainfall variability and predictability to address the problem of the farmers at field level. However, Stigter et al. (2005) suggested that response farming should not only be considered with respect to fitting cropping seasons to variable rainfall patterns but also for temperature patterns. A case study from Vietnam shows that either a planting date or a combination of planting date and variety could be varied to make sure that the rice flowers optimally with the detailed knowledge of temperature. Response farming has become a promising technology in the past two decades to alter cropping systems/patterns in relation to fluctuations in seasonal weather, tterefore, it is suggested that response farming be considered with indigenous technical knowledge to form new solutions to farming problems by improved use of available forecasting in the cropping season(s).

Establishing measures to reduce the impacts and to mitigate the consequences of weather and climate related natural disasters for agricultural production tte plan of implementation of the world summit on sustainable development (WSSD) held in Johannesberg in 2002 highlighted the need to mitigate the effects of disasters, risks, and uncertainties. Measures were suggested such as improved use of climate and weather information and forecasts, early warning systems, land and natural resource management, agricultural practices, and ecosystem conservation. tte WSSD noted that these measures would reverse the current trends and minimize the degradation of land and water resources, which are the basic needs for agricultural production, ttere is a need to promote the access and transfer of technology related to early warning systems, and disaster mitigation programmes to the developing countries which are seriously affected by agrometeorological risks and uncertainties. A comprehensive documentation of risks and uncertainties related to agriculture and allied fields at national, regional, and international levels is very important, ttis process helps to develop mechanisms for more efficient assessment of the impacts of the risks and uncertainties in all fields in general and pertaining to agriculture in particular. Collaboration with other international and regional agencies is essential to develop an integrated coastal management approach in reducing the impacts of natural disaster on agriculture, forestry, rangelands, environment, and livestock given the importance of storm surges to coastal lowlands.

Monitoring and early warning exercises directly connected to already established measures tte role of early warning and advance planning for natural disaster management and the mitigation of extreme weather/climate events is crucial for agriculture, forestry, rangelands, environment, livestock, etc. tte application of weather and climate information to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of emergency preparedness and response activities is essential. Critical thresholds must be monitored that should trigger early warnings. So, it is essential to survey the status of trends in land degradation and to report on appropriate criteria to conserve and manage material and environmental resources for the benefit of these sectors. Rapid advances in information technology need to be rapidly transferred to operational applications to more effectively disseminate agrometeorological information to the user community. All users of the information as well as the providers of the information must be involved to ensure that the right information is delivered to the right user at the right time for early warnings. Information gaps must be identified and guidelines and procedures must be established to improve the flow of timely and accurate information to farmers, including both monitoring and early warning systems. Current natural disaster management is largely crisis driven. ttere is also an urgent need for a more risk-based management approach to natural disaster planning in agriculture, rangelands, forestry, environment, livestock, etc. tte concept of the drought monitor map product should be promoted as a tool for all drought prone countries to better understand drought severity using multiple indicators, tte feasibility of organizing joint training workshops on national and regional drought monitor products under the auspices of WMO and the NDMC should be examined. Indices used in China in their agrometeorological bulletin could be effective training tools.

Climate predictions and forecasts and meteorological forecasts for agriculture and related activities

Weather forecasts play an important role in agriculture, tte study of climatic fluctuations in the rainfall and their impact of agriculture has become an important area of climatology in recent decades, tte average distribution of weather and climate phenomena along with the average variations in frequency and extent give a better insight into agronomic importance. One of the persistent demands of agriculturists is for more reliable forecasts of seasonal climate information to make appropriate crop decisions, ttese decisions include which crops and cropping patterns are chosen well ahead of the growing season in order to avoid undue risks and uncertainties. Hence, there is also an urgent need to assess the forecasting skills for natural disasters to determine those where greater research is needed. Lack of good forecast skill in drought, for example, is a constraint to improved adaptation, management, and mitigation, ttis has to be pursued uncompromisingly. For the identification of climatic fluctuations in rainfall data, long and continuous records are needed. Such data series are available only at a few stations in developing countries. Different techniques like relative rainfall probabilities, moving average, and iterative auto-regression may be adopted for better defining the climatic fluctuations, cause and effect of such fluctuations, and expected fluctuations to food-producing ecosystems.

Development and validation ofadaptation strategies to increasing climate variability and climate change in the physical, social, and economic environments offarmers

Scientific assessments have shown that over the past several decades, human activities, especially burning of fossil fuels for energy production and transportation, are changing the natural composition of the atmosphere. Providing an adequate standard of living (adequate food, water, energy, health, environment, etc.) for the current and future generations is a major challenge. So, there is a need in many agricultural areas around the world to enhance the understanding of climate variability in order to assess the impact of causal factors (natural and human). A better understanding of the climate of the major ecosystems of the world where agriculture and related sectors are at risk could help develop effective in situ coping strategies (Salinger et al. 2005). ttere is a need for thorough understanding of the effects of changes in regional climate on crop production, forestry, rangelands, environment, livestock, etc. Given the growing incidence of dust and sand storms around the world, it is essential to include measurement of Aeolian sedimentation loads in the standard agrometeorological stations of NMHSs. It is also essential to include a routine and comprehensive analysis of wind speed and direction data and disseminate this information to the users, ttese data should be applied to analyze the impact of sand storms on agriculture, tte issue of distinguishing long-term climate variability (e.g., IPO) and long-term climate change is important, as is the need to consider the impacts of both on agriculture, water resource management, and disasters such as bushfires. ttis is important because there are implications for long-term sustainability of certain types of activities, especially agriculture, ttere is modeling work at more overseas institutions (e.g., the Hadley Centre) that would be of relevance here, ttese issues need to be drawn to the attention of national policy-makers.

Specific weather forecasts for agriculture

In natural ecosystems and also in cultivated or forest ecosystems, climate change is capable of disturbing the balance between the species, whether they are plant or animal, in terms of individual and population (Lorean et al. 2001). tte effect of climate changes on development of pests and diseases could manifest a direct effect on the biological cycle of parasites and host parasite interaction. Weather influences the degree to which plants and animals are attacked by pests and diseases or harbour them. It also affects the biology of insects and disease organisms, and determines the nature, numbers, and activity of pests (and of predators on pests) and extent and influence of diseases. In crop and livestock protection, the spread and aerial transport of pests and diseases and the effectiveness of applied control or eradication methods depend upon atmospheric agencies. Agrometeorologists need accurate and reliable climate forecasts to assist the agricultural community in planning and operations.

Advice on measures to reduce the contributions ofagricultural production to global warming

Agriculture in the 21st century not only will have to make its contribution to the reduction of GHG emissions (particularly CO2, CH4, N2O) to satisfy the vital needs of populations in food, energy, fiber, and other products, tte adoption of agriculture to global warming triggers new requirements from major contemporary research efforts, ttis research shall aim both to increase the forecasting capacity and to anticipate the design of new cropping and forestry systems. Global warming in all sectors of agricultural production necessitates the adoption measures that must be economically feasible. Such measures could improve resilience of agricultural production systems to global warming, but, do not necessarily reduce emissions from the agricultural sector. To serve the agricultural sector, there is a need to thoroughly review the interactions between greenhouse gas emissions and agricultural activities. Also, there exist needs to document both positive and negative influences of agriculture on weather and climate systems and develop guidelines for increasing awareness within the farming communities of the related adaptation/mitigation strategies to address global warming and poverty issues. More attention should be given to the impacts of potentially increasing frequency and severity of extreme events associated with global warming and appropriate mitigation strategies.

Measures forsustainable agricultural development with strong agrometeorological components

While scientific and technological advances have resulted in higher quality information and increased capabilities in providing agrometeorological information, major difficulties remain. Technological advances in remote sensing (hand-held and space-based) such as soil moisture detection and évapotranspiration estimations and GIS constitute new sources of data for many agrometeorological applications and should help reduce some of these problems in the future, tte RS and GIS data sets not only complement ground observations but also offer new types of data and also provide greater global coverage and improve aerial averaging. Regional and global cooperation can hold the countries that lack the financial and technical resources to acquire such data. As indicated above, recent technological advanc-

es in GIS offer significant improvements in spatial analyses of meteorological and agricultural databases. Sustainable research and development has occurred in the application of crop models ranging from the field level to country level and even larger scale modeling. Various modeling techniques range from statistics-based regression analysis to more complex process-oriented approaches. Models are also used in global change impact studies, tte problem is how to develop an integrated information management system with technology and standardized analytical techniques that can be applied operationally for validation of selected models in agriculture, rangelands, forestry, environment, etc., at the eco-regional level, tterefore, it is recommended that an integration of GIS, remote sensing, simulation models, and other computational techniques be used to develop more effective early warning alerts of natural disasters risks and uncertainties. Also, there is a need and opportunity for the agrometeorologists to supply design requirements for new satellite sensors, ttis applies in particular to droughts, rangeland management, and to combat forest fires from a disaster mitigation point of view.

Improving the support systems ofagrometeorological services

To cope with the risks and uncertainties pertaining to agriculture, forestry, rangeland, and environment agrometeorological support systems must have a solid foundation of data, analytical support, educating and training extension service for application and dissemination of operational results, and policy support.

At present, collection, management, and analysis of atmospheric and surface data are being done with both manual and automated station networks, tte new techniques like remote sensing and GIS cover the data from near ground to outer space. However, these data systems have grown only in the developed countries. To overcome the difficulties faced by the developing and under developed countries, the cooperation among international, regional, national, and where possible local specialized bureaus and organizations is essential. Assessment of the impact of natural disasters on agriculture, rangelands, forestry, and environment requires the design of a comprehensive data base in accordance with the users needs, ttere is a need for an integrated data management system, from adequate collection to quality control, analysis, presentation, and also metadata not just meteorological data. Presentation should make use of the best available technology, e.g., GIS and Internet. Effective management of, and preparedness for, natural disasters, risks, and uncertainties require free and unlimited access to relevant databases that will allow monitoring, assessment, and prediction. It is recommended that all agencies responsible for these databases develop good collaborating links for the exchange of information included in these databases.

25.4.2.2 Research

Agrometeorological services need regional, national, and local coordination, tte priority items identified at Accra (1999) are agrometeorological aspects of the efficient use and management of resources in the full production environment; reduction of impacts on the resource base, yields, and income from natural disasters, risks, and uncertainties; validations and applications of databases and models for well specified systems and users; and, ways to ensure that research results are adopted in farming, ttere is an urgent need to assess the forecasting skills for natural disasters to determine where greater research is needed.

Education/training/extension

With increasing incidence of natural disasters, risks, and uncertainties around the world, a comprehensive assessment of their impacts on agriculture, forestry, rangelands, environment, and livestock and strategies for mitigation of natural disasters is critical for sustainable development, especially in the developing countries. Education and training is an important component in these sectors. It is recommended that strategies for education and training address the needs at national, regional, and international levels in order to exploit the synergies and share experiences. Community involvement and education is essential in preparedness and mitigation.

25.4.2.4 Policies

An appropriate policy environment based on social concerns and environmental considerations can help develop the right mix of strategies for preparedness and problem solving practices against natural disasters, risks, and uncertainties. It is recommended that countries develop policies aimed at effective natural disaster management. Such policies should emphasize incentives over insurance, insurance over relief, and relief over regulation, tte growing frequency of natural disasters requires effective use of the media to better inform and educate the general public and policy-makers about the potential impact of natural disasters and the need to adopt the preparedness strategies. Given the regional and global nature of natural disasters, it is essential to promote and foster collaboration between agencies and between international and regional programs and build partnerships.

A comprehensive agrometeorological service strategy to cope with risks and uncertainties

With the increasing incidence of events such as natural disasters, risks, and uncertainties around the world, a comprehensive assessment of their impacts on agriculture, forestry, rangelands, environment, and livestock needs to be addressed by country. Strategies for mitigation are critical for sustainable development, especially in the developing countries. Agrometeorological services and information must increasingly be made available to assist farmers in characterization of agroclimate, microclimate management and manipulation, advisories on response farming, monitoring of and early warning on natural disasters. Measures need to be established to reduce their consequences. Climate prediction and forecasting along with forecasts for pests and diseases and management of natural resources must be improved. Remote sensing, GIS applications, simulation models, and other computational techniques hold a lot of promise for improving operational agrometeorological services, ttese technologies must be used along with indigenous technical knowledge as Blended Technologies (BTs) for more effective early warning alerts of these events. More attention needs to be paid to enhancing such applications. ttere should be more research into the physical behaviour of crop growth and moisture regimes to develop better agricultural mitigation strategies and standardization of services and products, tte research shall also be aimed at improved agrometeorological services, not just for enhancing agricultural productivity, but also for protecting the environment and biodiversity, coping with climate change, and drought and desertification for ensuring sustainable development. Training programmes and education at regional levels, which include aspects related to climate modeling and integration of satellite imagery oriented to agricultural GIS analytical tools, need to become a standard feature. Regional exchange programmes that will consider the transfer of methodologies and knowledge of professionals of different services, by means of seminars, workshops, and/or hands on training, must be given top priority, tte regional and global nature of the natural disasters, risks, and uncertainties and the complexity of issues involved demands promoting and fostering collaboration between agencies and between international and regional programs and builds partnerships, ttis process helps in increasing the network of agrometeorological stations, maintaining the existing ones, and developing competitive agrometeorological products. New initiatives such as the World AgroMeteorological Information Service (WAMIS) could help strengthen operational agrometeorological services through the provision of agrometeorological products on a near real time basis on the Internet and through training modules to enhance the quality of agrometeorological products. Priority shall also be given and enough funds allocated for dissemination of meteorological tools applied to agriculture and oriented towards small and medium farmers.

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