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INSAM homepage until July 2009

Last modified July 01, 2009 13:11

INSAM homepage until July 2009

Those of you that follow INSAM more regularly may have observed that we did not update the site for some time. There were time constraints at the Bologna moderating and technical end, due to budget cuts, while we were organizing another set up of  the site, and I was in fact planning to quit, after eight years in charge of INSAM.

After moderation by some of the vice-presidents, we have now decided that we will launch the new website set up with immediate effect. The present team of Federica Rossi, Massimiliano Magli and myself will continue as complete volunteers  till late in 2010, when I will give the daily “sores” of this site  to a new president of INSAM, but will continue my support to its contents as founding president. For the launching of the INSAM electronic journal “Operational and Educational Agrometeorology”, planned in the course of next year, another solution will have to be found, given the time constraints of the present team.

We will highly appreciate your comments on the new set up, that we believe will make it easier to follow new additions to the site and also make searching for related issues in the past easier and faster. The illustrations are for the time being a set of third world “old timers” that I use in my Roving Seminars and other presentations throughout the world. We encourage you to send us such sets of agrometeorological issues from your work to replace the present set of illustrations in due course.

Since November I am heavily involved in working with farmers in Indonesia on several issues important in agrometeorology. I do that for a collaboration with an anthropologist of the Universitas Indonesia (UI), Jakarta, and her students at UI and the Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Yogyakarta. The farmers are alumni of a recent Climate Field School (CFS) that has had no follow up sofar.  A paper on our work there appeared last December in the LEISA Magazine ( and an earlier version is now available under “Accounts of Operational Agrometeorology” on this website. We aim at getting some staff and students at UGM interested in “extension agrometeorology” and I gave one of my Roving Seminars on “Agrometeorological Services” there last month, with the same purpose.

We launched in November at Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta, Central Java, a  trial season of ten on-farm rainfall observations by farmer volunteers, that is a first in Indonesia. The majority of participating farmers here are women. We are using daily read and emptied commercially available farmer rain gauges of the type that we tried out in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in the early eighties. We compared them there with Snowdon rain gauges as used in the official Tanzanian network.

The main success we are proud of here is that farmers immediately related the quantitative data to water in and on the soil and actual crop growth in their respective fields, intercomparing the data and the agronomical consequences. In this “La Nina” year, with abundant rainfall for most of Indonesia, advantages and disadvantages of water conservation by added field dikes, as advocated by the CFS, is one of the issues discussed. Do we in such a year need drainage facilities as well? We had a day of maximum rainfall between 100 and 140 mm!

In the same collaboration, we are planning another trial of rainfall observations in farmer fields in Indramayu, west of Jakarta in West Java, at the start of the next rainy season, with 50 to 60 volunteer farmers over a much larger area. Here we will use a locally developed metal cylinder with identical diameter at top and bottom, using a dip stick to measure height of rainfall, also on a daily basis. This is the same idea I already launched from the Netherlands to aid workers in 1970. The main issues are in fact not only to have a high density of on-farm rainfall data, but also to have a group of farmers collaborating on an issue of mutual interest, while at the same time coming together and interacting by radio for organizing themselves for other purposes.

In a recent day of mutual consultations in Indramayu, we asked farmers what their needs were that they would want CFSs to deal with in the future, as part of a programme of “Rural Response to Climate Change”. We came to several interesting conclusions in that discussion. Firstly, even within an area like Indramayu, different parts have different priority problems to be tackled. The rice farmers that use irrigation have different issues they want to have addressed from those that do rainfed agriculture; and even within the irrigated areas, one river basin has different priorities from another. Farmers near the coast, with sea water intrusion problems, need again other issues to take care off.

In each of these various parts of this region of say less than 10.000 km2 in total, crop and/or variety choices and the also climate related cultural measures may have to be made and organized differently. Water management issues are very different. The top down, one region one issue, type of approach by the Government is not suitable for their actual needs. They want NGOs to help in organizing CFSs in response farming differently, and they want scientists to be involved with services from “science shops” (“help desks”) to assist the CFS intermediaries as trainers. We still have very  much to learn and to do!

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