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INSAM homepage until November 2008

Last modified March 31, 2009 11:12

INSAM homepage until November 2008

As agrometeorologists, we can’t go around the food crises, we must pay attention. They touch us heavily and deeply.

If for more than one reason you suddenly own a dilapidated house, you do not start to repair the roof. You go back to basics, the foundations. Agricultural production and its environment are in all less industrialized countries and in rather some other ones still a very important part of the foundations of society and economics.

One of the more important consequences, if not the most important recent one, of the food crisis, is the remaining failure of the WTO negotiations. Giants like India and China finally agreed that free trade in commodities threatens agricultural production as well as rural life and values everywhere.

Development specialists aiming at improvement of the life of small farmers are joined here by environmentalists, among whom agrometeorologists. Neither production systems in the industrialized world in which ecological services are valued, nor rural areas with poor people in less-industrialized countries, will make progress in welfare when free trade reigns and protection goes.

The changes in agriculture and rural policies that over-globalization is forcing us to make are necessitated by other worsening changes:
(i) deterioration of the life of the poor; (ii) increases in the costs of energy; (iii) deterioration of environments; (iv) changes in production conditions; (v) climate change.

These changes are interrelated and ask for nothing less than organizing society differently by reshaping economies, lessening the rich/poor gaps and making life styles less wasteful and more protective.

This means that self sufficiency in food, as far as natural resources allow and regional trade makes advisable, must go together with services in rural areas of developing countries: education, including technical and agricultural vocational training and extension, health care, disaster preparedness & relief activities, infrastructures, credit facilities, agricultural input availabilities, markets, communication technologies. There are often crises here as well.

Some of these services are impossible without climate services, all are highly needed in such services. Related to agriculture we should speak in this context of agrometeorological services provided by Agrometeorological Services.

Because of the many interrelated changes and services, so interrelated crises, no country is safe/immune for them, but the mix is different everywhere. Addressing the consequences of climate change in agriculture has therefore to be done with services. This may be public or private (commercialized) services, it will be different country by country, sometimes even region by region, depending on the farming systems.

For the more industrialized countries or regions, the dilapidated house has deteriorated for reasons of overexploitation and wrong care taking. The way it has to be restored is again going back to basics: the value of rural areas for all, also the city dwellers.

An example of this may be found in the book that our Canadian colleagues allowed us last month to put under the INSAM topic “Needs for agrometeorological solutions to farming problems”, entitled “Better Farming, Better Air: A scientific analysis of farming practice and greenhouse gases in Canada”. Other examples in which the value of the rural areas prevails can these days be found in many basic ecological planning exercises in industrialized countries. Others will have to follow. Agrometeorology is also here directly involved. I recall the 2007 volume of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology “The contribution of agriculture to the state of climate”!

The promised catalogue “Hands on Training for Response Farming” is now available under that topic from the INSAM home page. We would appreciate additional items and updates. Related to this, we want to start a “Job demand” section, on which I will write to members in the course of this month. Let me know what you think!

Other developments are that the issuing by WMO of the third edition of the Guide to Agricultural Meteorological Practices (GAMP, WMO No. 134), mainly on CD-ROM, is still far away. It will possibly not become available free of charge outside developing countries. If you want to use this recent material, you better download what you need in its present form from the WMO/CAgM or INSAM websites. Changes will be limited to editorial and language issues, so scientifically the contents of these already double peer reviewed chapters should be used now, not after they have become obsolete. It is indicated there how to refer to the contents.

In connection with my book “Applied Agrometeorology”, I am still looking for more people interested to participate in writing sub-sections of 1500 words (not including references or figures/tables) for sub-parts III.4 “Applied agro-meteorology of crops under cover”, III.5 “Applied forestry (agro)meteorology”, III.6 “Applied agrometeorology of non-forest trees” and III.7 “Applied agrometeorology in animal husbandry”. I need ten sub-sections for each of these parts. See the Agromet Market Place. Write to me!

Finally, I was drafting a brochure for WMO/CAgM under the proposed name “Agrometeorological services: reaching all farmers with operational information products in new educational commitments”. I was very happy that I had available the results of the previous three INSAM contests on “best examples of agrometeorological services”. I want to stimulate you once more to participate in this year’s contest, using the protocol form that we developed. Again, see under the Agromet Market Place topic.

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