Monsoon and Agriculture in India
Dr. L.S. Rathore India Meteorological Department New Delhi
Weather and climatic information plays a major role before, during and after the crop season and if provided in advance, can help farmer to organize agri-management in tune with weather. The weather forecast based Agro-meteorological advisories become vital to stabilize crop yields through management of agro-climatic resources as well as other inputs such as irrigation, fertilizer and pesticides. Seasonal forecast for state of monsoon is consumed for strategic agronomic planning. In such strategic planning of crops and cropping patterns, short period climatic information has a vital role to play. Equally important are agronomic strategies to cope with the effects of erratic and adverse behaviour of monsoon on agricultural production. Short and Medium Range Weather Forecasts are used for preparatory activities, intercultural operations etc. Due emphasis is also given to factor extreme weather events such as drought, floods, dust-storm/sand storm, hailstorm, cyclone, strong winds, high temperature, cold injury and frost. Agro-meteorological Advisory Service (AAS) rendered by India Meteorological Department (IMD), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is a step to contribute to weather information based crop/livestock management strategies to enhancing crop production and food security. The main emphasis of the AAS system is to collect and organize climate/weather, soil and crop information, and to amalgamate them with weather forecast to assist farmers in taking management decisions. This has helped to develop and apply operational tools to manage weather related uncertainties through agro-meteorological applications for efficient agriculture in rapidly changing environments. The information support systems under AAS include: • Provision of weather, climate, crop/soil and pest disease data to identify biotic and abiotic stress for on-farm strategic and tactical decisions, • Provide district specific weather forecast up to 5 days with outlook for rainfall for remaining two days of a week. • Translate weather and climate information into farm advisories (including weather sensitive farm operations) using existing research knowledge on making more efficient use of climate and soil resources through applications of medium range weather forecast. • Introduction of technologies such as crop simulation model based decision support system • Effective mechanism for effective dissemination of Agro-Met advisories to farmers and extension. • Effective training and education. Being a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional project, AAS involves many stake holders. This project is being implemented through five tier structure to set up different components of the service spectrum. It includes meteorological, agricultural, extension and information dissemination agencies. District specific agrometeorological advisories relevant to farmer's decision making processes are prepared. The suggested advisories generally alter actions in a way that improves outcomes. It contains advice on farm management actions aiming to take advantage of good weather and mitigate the stress on crop/livestock. The bulletins are encoded in a format and language which is easy to comprehend by the farmer. Also, interaction between the information provider i.e AgroMet Field Unit (AMFU) and farmers is promoted under the service. This step enables a relationship between the IMD, AMFUs, and the farmers so that they can identify or diagnose the gaps in weather information available from the IMD. The Agro-met Advisory Bulletins are issued at district, state and national levels to cater the needs of local level to national level. The district level bulletins are issued by AMFUs and include crop specific advisories including field crops, horticultural crops and livestock. The State Level bulletin is a composite of district bulletins helping to identify the distressed district of the state as well as plan the supply of appropriate farm inputs such as seeds, irrigation water, fertilizer, pesticides etc. These bulletins are jointly prepared by State Meteorological Centre of IMD and AMFUs and mainly used by State Government functionaries. This is also useful to Fertilizer industry, Pesticide industry, Irrigation Department, Seed Corporation, Transport and other organizations which provide inputs in agriculture. This bulletin is a significant input to the State level Crop Weather Watch Group (CWWG) meeting. Presently, these bulletins are issued for all the states of the country. National Agromet Advisory Bulletins are prepared by National Agromet Advisory Service Centre, Division of Agricultural Meteorology, IMD, Pune, using inputs from various states. This bulletin helps identify stress on various crops for different regions of the country and suitably incorporate advisories. Ministry of Agriculture is prime user of these bulletins, which help take important decisions in Crop Weather Watch Group (CWWG) meetings at national level. The bulletins are also used by a large number of other agencies including fertilizer, pesticide industries. IMD has also started advisories based on extended range weather forecast. To ensure delivery of information to the farming community, a multi-mode dissemination system for agro-meteorological advisories is essential in which beside the conventional modes (radio, television & print media), the emerging modes of communication such as mobile phones and internet are also deployed. The future objectives of the service include; • To improvise the existing District level Agromet Advisory Services (AAS) operating under MoES/IMD during current Plan and to deliver crop and location specific AAS to farmers at block level with village level advisory. • To establish District Agromet Units which would be multi-purpose centres for catering to needs of agriculture as well as other sectors of economy? • To communicate weather based agromet advisory on line to the farmers in block/taluka/village level for efficient way of farm management. • To establish agromet data centre which will have weather, crop and soil data etc. collected and generated across various centres and agromet observatories respectively in India stored and made available the basic and derived agromet parameters and crop information to the users through the Agrimet website after scrutiny, quality check and maintained in a Relational Database. • Creation of Cell for Research and Excellence in Agrometeorology (CREAM) which will work to channelize R&D products and tools for their applications in AGROMET.