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INSAM homepage until January 2007

Last modified January 21, 2007 14:12

INSAM homepage until January 2007

Recently agrometeorologists from national weather services and other members of the WMO Technical Commission for Agricultural Meteorology (CAgM) had the opportunity to meet in New Delhi for the 14th session of the Commission. INSAM has been established to extend the contacts between agrometeorologists beyond the inner circles of CAgM but including them. We have so far quite well succeeded in these attempts to widen the body of agrometeorologists that are jointly involved in trying to make our fields of work more operational. And in better serving farmer communities and other information users in the realms of agricultural production and related environmental issues. However, we will all agree that much still remains to be done. We want to get and to give more guidance on the many aspects of priority selection and policy support.

In one of the better parts of the summary document of the above mentioned CAgM meeting, based on a report of an Expert Team led by Holger Meinke from Australia, we encouraged greater collaboration between scientists, agricultural consultants, economists, policy and decision makers, practitioners, and agricultural end users to produce information that is tailored to the multidisciplinary decision variables and decision alternatives.

CAgM noted from the same source that effective policies could not be made in isolation from the people most affected by it. Farmer’s actions have consequences for sustainable development. This drives policy formulation with the aim to influence the behaviour of farmers and resource managers in order to achieve better outcomes in terms of improved livelihood of people in rural areas. We acknowledged that two levels of compatible modelling needed to be promoted. First are models that inform national policy formation, and these models must account for socio-economic and macro-economic factors. Second are models for on-the-ground decision making that focus more on bio-physical and enterprise-level economic components. The model data and resulting information must be consistent across these two user scales.

CAgM also acknowledged the conclusion from that same Expert Team that both farmers and policy makers need to have access to relevant decision information, beyond that offered by general climate forecasts. So far, climate prediction science has, by default, driven the development of climate application tools. Experience over the last decade indicates the need for a user-oriented approach to applications development that is characterized by participatory approaches. We may add that this conclusion is fully supported by contents of the third edition of the CAgM Guide to Agricultural Meteorological Practices (GAMP), presently partly but soon completely available in draft on the CAgM and INSAM websites.

CAgM also agreed that there appears to be an inappropriate focus on software rather than on the problems that require solving. Software tools can be very useful but we need to recognize that software is only one of many available tools. A large majority of software products fail because this software does not meet people’s needs, while people want to deal with people, they do not want to repackage data and run complex software. This is particularly true for policy makers.

The spirit of most of the meeting is well illustrated by the above. Another interesting discussion was on climate change issues. I would like to further discuss with readers of this home page the point whether there are two issues we have to fight: changing climate variability as well as climate change. This was defended for example at the CAgM meeting by Dr. Roger Stone from Australia. In my own view there is only one issue, changing climate variability. In coping with the latter you are implicitly coping with climate change as well, because there is only one (changing) climate, which is caught in climate variability trends already.

About such and other issues we would like to have discussions on our “Agromet Market Place”, to connect agrometeorologists and others interested in such matters. Another important multi-faceted issue is capacity building. In policy support in capacity building for agrometeorology, where do we start? With curriculum improvement at the highest University level or with improved field classes by intermediaries at the lowest user training level? And this is capacity building in educational affairs but there are so many other facets of capacity building in agrometeorology: automatic or other routine field observations, model developments as hinted at in the first part of this home page, understanding of the actual and improved production environments through quantification, forecasting of climate events in a way that producers can actually prepare themselves meaningfully etc. etc. How do we decide on priorities for (policy support in) capacity building?

If you want to be part of such discussions or just want to interact with colleagues on your own agrometeorological problems, privately or on our website, join us by becoming a member of INSAM free of charge. We need you and we count on you, to be part of the world of agrometeorology, including climate aspects of local as well as global food security.

Have a great remainder of December and a good start of the new year. And why not, as a member of INSAM?

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