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Suggestions for further subjects in agrometeorology

Last modified December 15, 2008 14:31

Under “Suggestions for further subjects in agrometeorology” that should have a section on this Web site, we want to list suggestions from members for discussion on their inclusion. The discussions could include priority setting in the development of agrometeorological services supporting action, agrometeorological action support systems on mitigating impacts of disasters, and their overall support systems (data, research, education/training/extension, policies) [Send proposals to the President or the Vice-president.]

It was proposed some time ago from several directions to have on our web site a separate Topic on "Education and training in agrometeorology". After some years I succeeded in composing “Hands on” Training for Response Farming that you find under our topics.

In WMO already for a long time a publication “Guidelines for Curricula in Agricultural Meteorology” is in print that comes from a meeting I participated in (New Delhi, March 2007). In my book “Applied Agrometeorology” I will pay attention to the results of that meeting as well. [This item was contributed by Prof. Kees Stigter.]

 

It has been proposed that we should have a topic "Planned and ongoing projects, including information on project funding". People can inform their colleagues on ongoing programmes and projects with important agrometeorological components or even on programmes and projects that have been successful in the past. Information on funding aspects would be also very welcome here, even if this is general information. We know that it might be difficult to give very specific information that will lead to competition with one's own projects but there is sufficient general information around on funding aspects that will benefit agrometeorology in general. [This item was contributed by Prof. Wang Shili, China and Prof. Kees Stigter, Netherlands.]

 

Nobody so far picked this up.



It had been suggested that we should open a topic on "offers" of and "demands" for jobs/positions/training in agrometeorology. On the CLIMLIST job offers are common place but job requests are rare. On the Agromet-L list only rarely this topic comes up. Do you think we should have it? Would it attract sufficient material? Would it be sustainable?

Tomas Orfanus recently picked this up and in a “Letter from the President” (Agromet Market Place of 8 October 2008) it was launched, but so far little interest was shown.

It appears necessary in agrometeorological higher education to mount countervailing power against the indiscriminate globalization of the marketing approach. In the Dutch journal "Transfer" of September 2001, George Waardenburg, professor emeritus of development economics at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands, distinguishes four motives for institutions of higher education as participants on international markets:

  1. financial motives as the main reason for marketing the education;

  2. widening perspectives for local students and staff in developed countries by the presence and participation of foreign students;

  3. connection of research and education and the advantages of wide international dissemination of education and research results;

  4. social responsibility to contribute to education at the far end of their frontiers, by attracting students or by supporting education in these countries.

On this last motive, Waardenburg believes that educational undertakings of that kind do not have to be self-financing per se. They can still mean good business because in the long run they may contribute to the (international) reputation of an institution and to an attractive local educational climate for students.

In "Transfer" of January 2002, in an interview in English, James Cemmell of the National Unions of Students in Europe (ESIB) reviews their worries about the growing international trade in higher education services and the lack of considerations for social dimensions of higher education. The views of ESIB are shared by the Asian Students Association and other Asian-Pacific students but also by almost all Associations in Africa, Latin America and even North America. The social problems distinguished are for example that student mobility may cause an exodus of those with desirable skills form countries that need them to countires that already have them, what we used to call brain drain in earlier discussions of this kind. ESIB's views and the Brussels Student Declaration on these matters can be found at www.esib.org.

It is worth discussing whether higher education in agricultural meteorology should not opt for an important role of the fourth motive of Waardenburg and the importance of social dimensions in higher education that a new generation of students finds apparently important and attractive. The third and the second motive brought up by Waardenburg may easily be served under such conditions. His first motive, if not taken as the only reason, may be served in the long run. [This discussion was contributed by Prof. Kees Stigter.]

Nobody picked this subject up so far.

 

 

In her book “Seeds of knowledge” of 2004, Prof. Yunita Winarto (Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta) examines the process of knowledge construction among indigenous rice farmers of the lowland irrigated rice fields on the north coast of West Java - how the introduction of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles led to changes in farmers' knowledge of pests and diseases and subsequently to changes in farming practices as new ideas were incorporated into a body of local knowledge, modified and developed through time. The same author, as a reflection on the Farmer First Paradigm in Indonesia, described in 2007 the struggles of indigenous farmers, in particular the IPM farmers, in sustaining their freedom to decide and control their own resources in the midst of the ongoing Green Revolution paradigm.

 

The IPM farmers, who have been empowered through the so-called IPM Farmer Field Schools (FFSs) and various other follow-up programs, have to face the reality that they have only been the bulls (obedient farmers) vis-à-vis the tigers (commercial interests) in agricultural development in Indonesia. To place farmers as the first, needs a thorough evaluation and reflection of the extent to which the two parties within the existing power relations can work collaboratively for the farmers dignity and prosperity. The path to reach this, however, is not easy. Making farmers IPM experts through FFSs in Indonesia under the National IPM Program was too simplistic without shifting the agricultural development paradigm itself because the “culture” of agricultural development policies in Indonesia has not been altered significantly.

 

However, at both, national and grassroot levels, various farmers’ movements in gaining prosperity, improving dignity, and sustaining freedom to decide and govern their own strategies, are underway. Can FFS follow ups support these developments? FFSs in Indonesia could 'humanize people' after four decades of placing farmers as the targets and subjects of government top-down intensification programme in the green revolution paradigm. Therefore, such education and learning processes are the most significant means toward a Farmer First paradigm.

 

Unfortunately new environmental calamities confuse farmers and again a fusion of local and external knowledge has to be acquired in facing the consequences of climate change (Winarto, Stigter and students, 2008), within and outside IPM. But Climate Field Schools (CFSs) have started in Indonesia and their follow ups could continue to gain from the experience with IPM and other FFSs, at the same time working on this basic paradigm shift issue. In preparing the CFSs, there is a great need of not only learning from the indigenous farmers' problems and requests, but also incorporating their existing local knowledge and strategies, and develop the learning materials on the basis of that. Not just preparing the modules and curriculum on the basis of scientific knowledge and methods.

 

This subject of Climate Field Schools deserves attention in our website materials. Kees Stigter wrote in early 2008 in a paper for a Souvenir booklet for a meeting in Hyderabad:

 

“In my perspective, Climate Field Schools can provide the missing links between farmers/growers and the products from public, and in the future for some subjects private (service) providers, such as agrometeorological services, but the following requirements have to be met:

 

  • large scale institutionalization and funding of Climate Field Schools;
  • better needs assessments with the farmer groups that are organized for and by these Schools;
  • provision of better products geared to those needs and widely applicable in response farming;
  • higher official appreciation and better funding of extension services;
  • better training of product intermediaries with the public (service) providers to enhance client friendliness and suitability of these products;
  • better training of extension intermediaries, between farmers and (service) providers, with public or NGO extension services;
  • better professional and general education of farmers but coping in the above requirements with such problems as illiteracy, vulnerability, poverty and the needed differentiation.

 

In his Roving Seminars for Capacity Building in Agricultural Meteorology, prepared in Indonesia, Bangkok and India, and held so far in Iran, India, South Africa, Kees Stigter pays attention to such matters and conditions. Agricultural Meteorology, Agrometeorological Services and Climate Field Schools are a whole new ballgame. See also his homepage column of December 2008.

 

[This item was contributed by Prof. Yunita Winarto and Prof. Kees Stigter.]

 

In January 2009 we will be able to have this issue dealt with in an early version of a then published paper. We will do that under “Needs for agrometeorological solutions to farming problems”. We would like to hear your ideas.

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