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INSAM homepage until July 2010

Last modified July 07, 2010 09:49

INSAM homepage until July 2010

I have earlier used comparisons between health services and agrometeorological services. I now read a 30/31 January 2010 weekend article in the International Herald Tribune (p. 6) of Thomas Abraham, head of the public health communication programme at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre. [Would it not be great if we one day would have heads of public agricultural communication programs at a Journalism and Agricultural Studies Centre??]

In “There is no ‘false pandemic’” he argues that there is no WHO-scandal of influence of the pharmaceutical industry on this organization so that drug companies could sell more H1N1 (swine flu) vaccines to health services.  The world has just been fortunate that this virus has not been mutated to cause more severe illness in larger numbers of people, but this could still happen. The real scandal to be investigated is the inequity in vaccines distribution, Abraham argues. WHO had put together a list of 95 countries that should have received emergency supplies of vaccines last autumn. But it was only in January that supplies trickled through to the first three countries, while those who lived in the world’s rich countries would have been largely protected.

Now we know that the pandemic of hunger has never been false and is even worsening today. Lack of operational agrometeorological services in developing countries, especially Africa and the poorer (parts of) countries in Asia and Latin America, may be compared with this lack of health services in these same countries. I compare the products of agrometeorological services with the vaccines of health services. Actually, there is a comparable ongoing scandal in the inequity of products distribution in agrometeorological services in again these same poorer (parts of) countries.

In her report as Chair of the OPAG 2 to the Management Group Meeting of the Technical Commission for Agricultural Meteorology (CAgM) of WMO, that I attended as a special member for “Policy support for capacity building (in agrometeorological services)”, Federica Rossi, our INSAM website moderator, gave relevant indications. Inadequate human resources (low skills), inadequate technology and computing facilities, but also limited coverage of national station networks as well as data discontinuity were common reasons that limit capacities of NMHSs to provide agrometeorological services. This came from replies to questionnaires by countries in the South West Pacific, Africa and poorer countries elsewhere. To this list of problems may be added timeliness of data transfer from local fields to data analysis centres (and of products in the other direction) and availability of effective dissemination systems.

The final recommendation under the OPAG Term of Reference “to improve the regional-based capability of operational applications” reads: “Focusing of operational applications of agrometeorology towards the actual needs of the farmers translates into the elaboration of agrometeorological products based on the specific needs/demands of each region. Efficient ways to deliver information to end users must be fastly established using, where possible, new ICTs and, in other cases, locally suited traditional information channels”. I add here myself the upcoming medium of Climate Field Schools.

This inequity of product distributions in agrometeorological services remains a scandal that is really comparable to that of the inequity of vaccines distribution. It is something that has to be cured. Some interesting projects are bound to start in Ethiopia and the Caribbean through WMO, but much more is needed; particularly on establishing educational commitments towards farmers to get agrometeorological and other services actually established with farmers to solve their priority problems.

When submitting this homepage text, I just finished some Roving Seminars in Africa. From 1996, when my long term TTMI-Project funding had finished, till my official retirement in 2005, I gave lectures and papers (from one to several to many) on “farmer first” applied agrometeorology (or extension agrometeorology) in Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Samaru/Zaria, Wad Medani, Khartoum, Eldoret, Accra, Lagos, Ibadan, Nyala, Niamey and Banjul (in Africa), Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Chonqing/Bei Bei, Kunming, Yuanmou, Huhhohot, Wuchuan, Yinchuan, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan and Nanchang (China), Hanoi (Vietnam), Bangkok (Thailand), Bogor, Makassar, Bangkalan, Manado, Kendari, Mataram (Indonesia), Chennai/Madras, Hyderabad, Pune, New Delhi, Coimbatore (India), Fukuoka (Japan), Tehran (Iran), Guaruja (Brazil), Washington (USA) as well as in Brussels, Geneva, Bologna, Bucharest, Vienna, Prague, Ljubljana, Moscow, Wageningen and Eindhoven (Europe).

From and during these lectures of ten years I developed two Roving Seminars of one week each: “Agrometeorological services: theory and practice” and “Agrometeorology and sustainable development”, that I subsequently gave for two weeks in Iran (Tehran/Gorgan, 2005), South Africa (Bloemfontein, 2008) and Indonesia (Yogyakarta, 2009/2010) and (so far) for one week in India (2006), Lesotho and Swaziland (in 2010). Some parts I also performed in Brazil and Venezuela (2007). If you would be interested, I can send you the Seminar contents by e-mail. They are suitable for meteorologists/climatologists working for agriculture, agriculturalists of many directions and agricultural extension intermediaries of all kinds as participants. Numbers of participants varied from 10 till 75. The various ways this may be organized can be discussed case by case. For this year I am fully booked, but for 2011 and 2012 there are ample opportunities.

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