Warning Signal  

#GS1 #Climate #Weather #IMD 

IMD, the country’s only public meteorological organisation does well in predicting large-scale weather phenomena like high temperatures and heat waves. But it fails to predict smaller incidents like storms that bring rain, hail, dust and lightning. Despite India having one of the world’s best agrometeorological advisory systems, the farmers are left in the lurch.  

Why does it fail to warn farmers?  

  • The main reason for failure of IMD is the poor density of observatories. The government contents that the country needs 40,000 Automatic Weather Stations (AWSS) every 10 kms in the plains and every 5 kms in the hills. India has only a third of this.  
  • There is also a drastic difference in the scale of weather data collection infrastructure across the states.  
  • Kerala, for instance, has one AWS every 87 sq km but Chhattisgarh has one every 2,703 sq km.  
  • IMD also does not provide micro-level advisories. Its default scale for forecasts is the district level.  
  • This is insufficient with each district spanning hundreds to thousands of sq km, and significant weather variations found within short distances.  
  • No standard protocol for AWSS on data collection worsens the situation. Weather stations are poorly managed and don’t have quality control. There is no common platform for data collection. The problem escalates due to poor inspection.  
  • The Agrometeorological advisories should ideally provide weather information and add value to it through advice on agricultural best practices. Some advices and outdated and recommendations are general in character which are not suitable to current production and agriculture techniques.  

Way forward  

  • Changing climate has the potential to invalidate centuries of agricultural knowledge accumulated in rural India.  
  • A modern agromet system is key to building resilience against this challenge.  
  • Focus now has to be on the integration and coordination of technology and human resources, across fields, levels of government, and the private and public sectors. 
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