INSAM - The International Society for Agricultural Meteorology
I write this first home page for 2014 in Havana, Cuba, where I taught one of my Roving Seminars in Agrometeorology/Agroclimatology from 2 till 6 December for 30 agrometeorologists from all over the island. It was my 30st Roving Seminar since I started this exercise in 2005 in Iran, and in the meantime I covered 13 countries. It really took off in 2010, and in the last four years I gave 23 of these three to five days Seminars. My earliest Roving Seminars were on “Agrometeorological Services: Theory and Practice” and “Agrometeorology and Sustainable Development”. I can still give a Roving Seminar based on an updated combination of the earlier two as “Climate Services for Agriculture and Sustainable Development”.
Since 2011, however, I also teach my third Roving Seminar “Reaching farmers in a changing climate”, like I did this month in Havana. Moreover, I developed a special Roving Seminar on “Extension Agrometeorology” that I gave a few times in Iran. And in 2013 I developed a special Roving Seminar for Africa as “What climate change means for farmers in Africa”. The latter Seminar, first given in Zimbabwe, is based on material from which I published with Emmanuel Ofori (Ghana) last November a “Triptych Review”, in three parts, in the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND), that is issued very successfully from Nairobi, Kenya, since 2000.
If you ask why I developed these Seminars, I have to admit that frustration was initially the main drive. Reaching farmers directly appeared an illusion till our recent set-up in Indonesia with “Science Field Shops” (see the Journal of Agricultural Sciences and Applications, 2 (2), 112-123, 2013, http://www.j-asa.org/PaperInfo.aspx?ID=5362) and in various places with “Extension Agrometeorology” (see the Special Issue on Agrometeorology: From Scientific Analysis to Operational Application. Atmosphere 4 (3), 237-253, 2013, http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4433/4/3/237).
In the first paper it is argued that “beyond the slow progress made in the last decades, another step in making agrometeorology more operational for solving farmers’ livelihood problems is actually needed”. In the second paper it is explained that “extension agrometeorology is applied in agrometeorological extension work to advice and serve farmers. In agrometeorology, response farming has been developed decades ago. Climate change complicates response farming but does not alter it. This paper reports on new operationalization of that response farming in new educational commitments in agroclimatology. It is explained how “Science Field Shops“ have done this and still do it in Indonesia”.
No serious serving of farmers under conditions of a changing climate can be done without locally seriously trained extension intermediaries that can motivate farmers. Climate Field Schools would be the best medium for this training purpose. But also that approach must end into “climate field services for agriculture” established with farmers in their fields. So the appropriate training of a class of extension intermediaries closest to farmers and operating within their livelihoods is essential. These intermediaries must have understood the consequences of climate change for the various farming systems they advise and work with.
Now it follows from the above that “Training of Trainers” must be considered first. That is what I try to initiate with my Roving Seminars. However, this must be followed up in each and every country in special ways that serve them best. In the above given recent literature and in earlier work I have called those Trainers of Trainers “product intermediaries”. They should in my view be members of staff of the institutes where the products are developed that must be made into the climate services that should be established with farmers in their fields. These institutes are “Weather and other Environmental Services”, and/or “Agricultural Research Institutes” and/or “Universities with Agricultural Faculties”. These product intermediaries should be taught as members of staff “in service” within these institutes. They should be trained to make the applied (scientific) products of these institutes, as potential services, more client friendly and operational.
Examples of such products are suitable crop varieties, including those for intercropping, and their climatic requirements; various monitoring cum early warnings; disaster preparedness; zonings and relevant mappings; all kinds of calculations (from crop water requirements and sand encroachment, to suitable sowing, spraying, weeding and harvesting dates); forecasts and predictions of all kinds (pests, diseases, drought, heat, frost, floods, soil erosion, weather, climate, including steps to be taken to assess their impacts and consequences and to design countervailing measures) etc. etc. More examples can be found in my “Applied Agrometeorology” (published by Springer, 2010).
The product intermediaries should then train the extension intermediaries at Climate Field Schools to establish these client friendly and operational climate services for agriculture with farmers in their fields. The period of some years during which this can be organized will be covered by the “Science Field Shops” as I also show in my Roving Seminars.
in December INSAM reached the total of 2000 members and I am most happy that I have been able to contribute to that growth with the contents of our site. By May 1st 2014, I have taken care of most of the contents of this website for twelve years. In February I become 74 and although that is not very old these days, I believe that next to myself as “founding president” a new “performing president” should take over the responsibilities of the daily care for the contents of the site, together with the website moderator, Dr. Federica Rossi, and the website principal technician, Mr. Massimiliano Magli, who also spend their time free of charge regularly to get the material to you.
I plan to change the contents of my position per May 1st if and when we have found such a new “performing president” that preferably should come or act from a developing country. If you are interested, personally or with a team, of taking care of the contents of the INSAM website, say for the next four years, let us know. For now, the three of us wish you all the best for the year to come.