Association of Agrometeorologists

Weather and climate based farm advisory services

Dr. N. Chattopadhyay

The management of weather and climate risks in agriculture has become an important issue due to climate
change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has highlighted multiple climate risks for
agriculture and food security as well as the potential of improved weather and climate early warning systems
to assist farmers. Wise use of weather and climate information can help to make better-informed policy,
institutional and community decisions that reduce related risks and enhance opportunities, improve the efficient
use of limited resources and increase crop, livestock and fisheries production. National Meteorological and
Hydrological Services (NMHSs) have an important role to play in providing this weather and climate
information to farmers, big and small. NMHSs need realignment, new resources and training in order to provide
location and crop specific actionable weather and climate services and products that link in available
technologies, best practices and go the last mile to reach all farmers
The sources of weather and climate-related risks in agriculture are numerous and diverse: limited water
resources, drought, desertification, land degradation, erosion, hail, flooding, early frosts and many more.
Effective weather and climate information and advisory services can inform the decision-making of farmers and
improve their management of related agricultural risks. Such services can help develop sustainable and
economically viable agricultural systems, improve production and quality, reduce losses and risks, decrease
costs, increase efficiency in the use of water, labour and energy, conserve natural resources, and decrease
pollution by agricultural chemicals or other agents that contribute to the degradation of the environment.
Weather and Climate based Farm Advisory Services meet the real-time needs of farmers and contribute
to weather-based crop/livestock management strategies and operations dedicated to enhancing crop production
and food security. They can make a tremendous difference in agricultural production by assisting farmers in
taking the advantage of benevolent weather and in minimizing the adverse impact of malevolent weather.
The application of weather forecasts to generate crop advisories requires the definition of a spatial
domain of validity and a temporal range as well as accuracy. Such are prepared containing past weather,
forecast for 5-10 days ahead and a weather-based agrometeorological advisory that includes pest and disease
information. The phenological stages of plant development are included in crop specific advisories to offer
farmers guidance on cultural practices. All of the information is geared to help farmers maximize output and
avert crop damage or loss. The Agromet Advisory Services also has an end-user group feedback mechani sm
to help the district/block level forecasters to tailor their services further.
The analysis and decision support information, for example, include information on how to manage pests
when the forecast is for relative humidity, rising or falling temperatures or high or low winds; on how to manage
irrigation through rainfall andvarious temperature forecasts; on how to protect crop from thermal stress when
the forecast is for extreme temperature conditions, etc. It also helps farmers anticipate and plan for chemical
applications, irrigation scheduling, disease and pest outbreaks and many more weather-related agriculturespecific
operations from cultivar selection to dates of sowing, planting, transplanting, intercultural operations,
harvesting and post-harvest operations. Survey conducted on the weather forecast used in Agromet Advisory
Services in India.a large number of farmers of farmers responding agreed that numerical weather prediction was
reliable, and asserting that they used the information in making decisions during different farming stages, from

sowing to harvesting. Such actionable weather information is consistently being delivered to farmers and
productivity reports have shown significant increases in yields and with-it food availability and incomes.
Agromet Advisory Services use multi dissemination channels like mass media, group awareness
campaigns and individual contacts etc. in order to reach more farmers. There is still a need for greater
dissemination and to convince farmers of the sustainability of the positive impacts observed in the longterm.
The group awareness campaigns are strengthening use of the services in farming communities and helping
farmers to be more self-reliant in dealing with weather and climate issues that affect agricultural production.
They are also permitting farmers to adapt better by improving their planning skills and management decisionmaking.
A participatory, cross-disciplinary approach is required to deliver climate and weather information and
enhance awareness in these user groups.
There is still a long way to go. Agricultural production and farmers’ incomes can be further increased
by reducing their losses and distress. It is challenging task for government, NMHSs as well as all the other
stakeholders. NMHSs havegreat challenge of further enhancing the accuracy of weather forecasts and to make
the Agromet Advisory Services more useful and demand driven by farmers. It may also venture into generating
high-resolution medium range weather forecast and advisories that address livestock, poultry and fisheries
issues. A priority for NMHSs and World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is to continue to promote
Agromet Advisory Services in South Asia countries. The benefits to farmers and the contribution to food
security and national economic development are measurable. The return on investment is manyfold for
governments that can put effective, tailored agrometeological services in places.