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Climate information important for 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 the climate services for agriculture, to create awareness on various climate services, and to develop recommendations and plans.

Agriculture officer with agriculture 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 of College of Natural Resources (CNR), Tulsi Gurung (PhD), said that awareness among users, especially about facilities such as seasonal forecast, was poor. Sensitisation about these services through radio programmes, workshops, seminars, and social media were recommended.

She said that there was a need to develop agro-climatic services to 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 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 agriculture ministry was also required.

Some of the recommendations included training and workshops for 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.

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 roles and responsibilities of the agriculture department, NCHM, and Department of Disaster Management (DDM) in disseminating the weather information was also recommended.

“Role of the department of agriculture and NCHM in dissemination and understanding of climate services was not clear,” Sagar Acharya said.

One of the resource persons from Ariana Consulting Engineers, Yahya Abawi (PhD), said that a feedback mechanism was important to understand information NCHM provides to agriculture department or DDM. “NCHM as a provider of the information needs to understand how other agencies understand the information.”

About 40 participants from different sectors attended the three-day workshop organised by NCHM, World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), and IMD.

Rinchen Zangmo

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