Dr. Lobzang Stanzen, Dr. Ashu Sharma
World Meteorological Day is observed annually on March 23 to highlight the importance of the role people and their behavior play in protecting the Earth’s atmosphere. The day also commemorates the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which was established on March 23, 1950. The purpose of writing this article is to keep in mind this year’s theme World Meteorological Day “Warning early and early action”. Agriculture and related sectors are both causal and vulnerable to climate change. It is very difficult to balance the growing interest in sophistication and climate change mitigation options. The increase in the intensity of cyclonic disturbances over India and the variations in monsoon rains will be between 2% and 12%. In the recent past, the same has been experienced in many parts of India. Another report endorsed by the IPCC alarmed that the Indian region would experience a decline in food production of 15-25% in southern India and 25-50% in northern India. Current trends in global climate change, atmospheric CO2 and temperature levels are likely to increase in the future, which will affect crop yields, water and nitrogen requirements in a given region. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warns that a global temperature rise of 2-4°C above pre-industrial levels could reduce crop yields by 15-35% in Africa and Asia and 25-35% in the Middle East. In India, the Indo-Gangetic Plains could experience significant heat stress by 2050, potentially resulting in losses of 50% of their wheat-growing area (Porter et al. 2014). Increases in daytime and nighttime temperature have also been found to negatively affect the growth, development and yield of rice and wheat crops, which are indeed India’s staple food crops. Without adaptation by 2050, crops and livestock will likely experience a significant reduction in production. For example, India’s climate is projected to increase by 2-4°C by 2050 with some marginal changes in precipitation during monsoon months and large changes in precipitation during non-monsoon months. A 2°C increase in temperature could decrease rice yields by about 0.75 tonnes per hectare in high-yielding areas. In a nutshell, the spatial and temporal change in the amount and distribution of rainfall has resulted in a change in the length of the growing season and the potential for crops. Moreover, erosion, degradation, pollution and overexploitation of natural resources increase the vulnerability of agriculture to climate change.
Climate-induced biotic stresses aggravate deterioration and thus reduce the resilience of Indian agriculture. While most of India’s agricultural activity depends on a resource-poor marginal farmer, the adaptive capacity of smallholders and marginal farmers during climatic extremes is very limited. The main concern at this point is to relinquish the impact of climate change and climate variability, which might be possible by avoiding, escaping and adapting. Good agricultural practices, namely, proper adjustment of crops, development of appropriate genotypes, adoption of improved management technologies against the changed environment, soil and water conservation and research of alternatives, are the need of the hour. Agricultural scientists at ICAR and the SAUs work with dedication to moderate the impact of climate change on the production sector and continuously improve available technologies or develop new technologies to meet emerging needs.
These technological improvements should reach the farming community when needed. If the farmer receives technical inputs based on the weather at the right time, he will be able to cope with the vagaries of the weather and produce more for himself and his country. The bottleneck at this stage is the transfer of technologies from the laboratory to the ground. It is recognized that there is a failure in our extension system for many reasons, which have attracted the reach of our technology. Now we are in the strengthening phase of the adaptation process to keep up with our production with the demand. Weather-based agricultural advisories for multiple crops and different crop growth stages were developed with the help of technocrats and incorporated into the database. Weather-based agro advisories help farmers get timely weather-based agro advisories to make necessary decisions for the next days of farming. As we know, agricultural sectors contribute huge percentage to Indian economy and Indian farmers largely depend on monsoon rains for their farming. Currently, about 60% of the total net sown area is rainfed, which contributes a significant share of total food production as well as livestock. Weather plays an important role in agricultural production. Apart from rainfall, other meteorological parameters also play an important role in influencing agricultural production. Adverse weather conditions are major concerns for the farming community.
Predicting these weather events in advance and planning crops based on the forecast would greatly help the farmer to reduce crop loss in aberrant weather situations and also take appropriate emergency measures. Under the Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa (GKMS) project, Indian Meteorological Department, Ministry of Earth Sciences in collaboration with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), District Agrometeorological Unit (DAMU ) and the Agro-Meteorological Field Unit (AMFU) and location-specific agro-weather advisories for the benefit of the farming community every Tuesday and Friday at district level as well as at block level. The primary objective of this program is to advise on timely and needs-based crop management practices. Weather parameters influence agricultural operations and agricultural production. Abnormal weather conditions are one of the major reasons for crop failures in India. Losses could be minimized by modifying field operations using weather-based agricultural advisories. Normally, a medium-range weather forecast includes the following parameters: amount of precipitation, maximum and minimum temperature, type of cloud cover, maximum and minimum temperature, wind speed and direction for 5 days ahead. A survey conducted at different locations revealed an increase in the benefits of farmers who followed weather advisories compared to farmers who did not follow any advisories. The added benefit was due to the crop management done by the farmers based on weather conditions.
(The authors are Agro-meteorological scientists from KVK Reasi & Kathua, SKUAST-Jammu)