In a bid to help farmers deal with the vagaries of weather, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) would launch localised weather forecasting at blocks across 600-odd districts by 2019. M Rajeevan, secretary, ministry of earth sciences said that currently weather forecast is being provided at district level through daily updates. The Met department does not provide rainfall and other weather-related forecast at the block level.
“There has been variations in weather pattern within a district. Through block level forecasting, the farmers would be well equipped to deal with possible crop losses,” Rajeevan told FE.
Currently, localised forecasting is being experimented in 100 blocks across the country as pilot. The met department has prepared experimental forecasts in the area spanning 12 km x 12 km patches of land for several hundred blocks. In the next step, operational forecast will be made for 100 selected blocks, which will be gradually extended to more than 6,500 blocks all over the country in the next couple of years.
On an average, 8-10 blocks make up each of the country’s 640 districts but the weather conditions often vary quite significantly within a district so that farmers seek more localised information for taking appropriate steps for saving the crops.
Under the Gramin Krishi Mausam Seva (GKMS), the Earth System Science Organisation (ESSO) and IMD have been providing crop specific advisories to the farmers at the district level twice a week. The GKMS products are being disseminated through smart messaging service (SMS) and integrated voice response system (IVRS) to more than 12 million farmers.
About two years back, IMD had launched a special service titled ‘Nowcast’, where the farmers living in the 50-km radius of IMD’s 146 weather stations get SMS alerts on thunderstorm, squall, hailstorm, among others, within minutes after the information is generated by the Met department.
Earlier, IMD’s weather predictions were uploaded on its website which farmers used to find difficult to access due to lack of internet connectivity in many of these remote locations where the Met department has AgroMet Field Units. At present, the data generated by IMD’s state-of-the-art doppler radars, which have been deployed in 17 locations across the country to track extreme weather phenomenon, instantly transmits to agriculture ministry’s mKisan portal.
Launched in 2013, the IT-enabled advisory service of the agriculture ministry, mKisan portal, is at present offering region-specific and crop-specific information to farmers on their mobile phones, irrespective of the types of handsets.