Empowering Farmers through Agromet Advisory Services

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posted on August 21, 2022 | Author DR. ASHU SHARMA

The agricultural sector must produce more food for a growing world population, which is expected to increase from 7 billion to around 9 billion by 2050. India is home to 1.32 billion people, or around 17% of the world’s population. As agriculture is the backbone of India’s economy which accounts for about 14 percent of the country’s GDP, about 11 percent of its exports and provides livelihoods for about half of its population. India has a rich biodiversity, has experienced severe climatic variability, crop failures and recurring famine throughout its history.

To address the problems resulting from climate change and resulting droughts, floods, land degradation, crop and biodiversity loss, famine, malnutrition and poverty, there is a need to raise awareness about the management of natural resources. The country needs a new, integrated approach to advancing improved technologies and best practices to manage crops and livestock, as well as soils, lands and ecological resources in the region. Most Indian farmers are smallholders who often have limited access to technology and resources, making them increasingly vulnerable to weather and climate fluctuations. The increased frequency, severity and intensity of extreme weather and climate events have contributed to food deficits and the inability to prevent widespread famine in many high-risk areas.

Agricultural production depends on many factors, of which the climate is the main factor. Weather varies with space and time, therefore, its predictions can help minimize agricultural losses through proper management of agricultural operations. Weather is one of the most important factors determining the success or failure of agricultural production. It affects all phases of plant growth and development. Any weather variability during the crop year, such as a delayed monsoon, excessive rains, floods, droughts, periods of too high or too low temperatures would affect crop growth and ultimately the quality and quantity of yield. Crop losses can be reduced by doing good crop management in time through accurate and timely weather forecast.

Weather forecasts also provide guidelines for selecting crops best suited to predicted climatic conditions. The purpose of weather forecasting is to advise farmers on actual and forecast weather and its impact on various day-to-day farming operations i.e. sowing, weeding, time of pesticide spraying, scheduling irrigation, fertilizer application, etc. and the whole culture. management. Weather forecasts help to increase agricultural production, reduce losses, risks, reduce input costs, improve the quality of yields, increase the efficiency of water use, labor labor and energy and reduce pollution through the judicious use of agricultural chemicals. Complete avoidance of all agricultural losses due to weather factor is not possible, but it can be minimized to some extent by making adjustments through timely and accurate weather forecast information. Weather forecasts and weather-based agromet advisories help increase economic benefits for farmers by suggesting appropriate management practices based on weather conditions.

Agrometeorological services rendered by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) of the Ministry of Earth Sciences is a step to contribute to crop/livestock management strategies and operations based on meteorological information and dedicated to improving agricultural production and food security. IMD runs a “Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa” (GKMS) program with the aim of serving the farming community in different parts of the country. Based on medium-range weather forecasts, AAS bulletins are prepared for 636 districts and issued every Tuesday and Friday. Efforts are being made to prepare AAS bulletins for all districts in the country.

Dissemination of Agromet notices

Dissemination of agromet advisories to farmers through different multi-channel systems such as All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan, private TV and radio stations, newspapers, WhatsApp and SMS, etc. is underway on a larger scale. In addition to this number AMFU and DAMU, in collaboration with Agricultural Universities and Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), has started sending agromet notices through SMS and WhatsApp groups at district and block level. Agromet notices are also disseminated in regional and English languages ​​via “Kisan SMS”, a portal launched by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. Currently approx. 22.50 million farmers benefit directly from this service. Weather forecasts and advisories in the form of SMS alerts and warnings during extreme weather events are also issued, allowing farmers to plan their farming operations to minimize/control crop damage in adverse weather conditions .

Awareness programs

Awareness programs help farmers become more self-sufficient to deal with weather and climate issues that affect agricultural production and also to help farmers and further develop their adaptive capacity with better planning and management decisions, participatory and interdisciplinary approach. is driven to disseminate climate and weather information and to raise awareness among information user groups. Farmers receive information brochures; pamphlets describing agricultural guidelines based on weather conditions; information on packaging and cultural practices in the district; leaflets with information on pests and diseases, extreme weather conditions, crops grown under stress conditions and integrated emergency plans; and the District Agromet Bulletin in local languages.

This current district level service delivery system is being scaled up to sub-district/block level with dissemination down to village level to meet end user needs in irrigated systems and rainwater. Establishment of 660 District Agrometeorological Units (DAMUs) in each district of India at Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) is being prepared which comprises 130 existing AMFUs with the aim of preparing tailored advisories at the sub-district level /block with medium-term weather forecast at block level, so that small and marginal farmers benefit from these services.

(The author is Scientist (Agrometeorology) at Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kathua, SKUAST Jammu)

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