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INSAM homepage until March 2004

Last modified March 11, 2004 15:33

INSAM homepage until March 2004

Late last month INSAM reached a membership of over 500 from 85 countries after less than two years of existence of registration through our web site. Our aim is not less than 1000 members after five years. There is clearly a number of countries that lead our membership list. India (58), Brazil (55), Iran (44), Italy (27), USA (27), Korea (25), Cuba (20) have all from more than 50 to 20 or more members. These are the countries where agrometeorology is apparently considered very important at present, where it is blossoming and where at the same time English is sufficiently spoken or at least understood.

We know that countries like China, Japan and Russia have large numbers of agrometeorologists, but our experience and discussions with members from these countries indicate that the English language is here the largest stumble block for wider membership. We particularly urge a new generation of agrometeorologists in these countries to overcome this English language syndrome and more fully join the world of exchange of agrometeorological knowledge through INSAM.

Then there is a large number of countries where insufficient numbers of agrometeorologists exist at present. This is mainly due to negligence of the recent past for which we give some likely reasons below. These reasons are different in industrialized, transition, advancing and poor non-industrialized countries. We, however, urge agrometeorologists in all countries to suggest their colleagues to become members of INSAM free of charge by using our membership registration and enjoy the growing importance of agricultural meteorology.

No field in meteorology has suddenly received such an increase in attention as agricultural meteorology. Mainly due to the recent awareness of increasingly extreme weather and climate phenomena and their repercussions on rural areas and their production, agricultural meteorology in general and agricultural meteorology of extreme events in particular suddenly got to the centre of attention. No applied field of meteorology, however, was so unprepared for this shift in appreciation and importance as agricultural meteorology.

The history of the Commission for Agricultural Meteorology shows that a lot of groundwork was done by relatively few people mainly in the industrialized world. However, a trend of decreasing importance of weather and climate with increasing external inputs into changing modes of agricultural production could only be partly counteracted by increasing emphasis on “operational agrometeorology” and “economic benefits of agrometeorology” in the course of the eighties.

Simultaneously more emphasis came on the developing countries where funds remained however very low and were mainly or for a large part external. In advancing industrializing developing countries this gradually improved but still remained much below what was needed. In countries in transition and China, especially isolation was an insurmountable problem.

However, environmental concerns due to intensivation of production were already rising when climate change and particularly its consequences of increasing climate variability struck hard. In the nineties agricultural meteorology tried to regroup its now relatively meager forces and keep stock of (i) the requirements of crops, forests and livestock, particularly in low external input agriculture, and (ii) the sustainability of the agricultural resource base, everywhere but with different emphases.

As agrometeorologists, we appeared only very partially able to cope with these demands, mainly because of the virtually non-existence of agrometeorological services. Presently preparedness for extremes is creating an additional and growing demand in industrial and non-industrial countries alike, again with very different emphases due to the very different modes of production.

For these new demands we are even less prepared, (a) with respect to adaptation strategies with agromet components, (b) scientifically in a functional way, (c) as far as policy environments are concerned that allow the application of agrometeorology in services for the benefit of the (potential) victims of extreme events. New fields as climate forecasting, GIS and remote sensing prematurely run to the rescue while basically still more suitable knowledge remains unadapted and unapplied, particularly in developing countries.

This lack of preparation of agricultural meteorology for its new tasks to increase the preparedness of farmers for climatological and other environmental catastrophes we want to address on our INSAM web site. Only through your participation in the information exchange and in the related debates can we do that most successfully. Help us to make INSAM an important forum for increasing preparedness of agrometeorology through its services to prepare farmers better for calamities and a sustainable use of their resource base.

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