Friday, October 25, 2013

Piloting agro-meteorological early warnings for Nepal’s farmers

IRIN: The Nepalese government is planning to pilot the country’s first weather warnings for farmers, something it is hoped will stem agricultural losses during the June-August monsoon.  Thousands of hectares of arable land are damaged during this period; in 2013 alone an estimated 10,000 hectares were lost to land erosion, floods and water-logging, according to the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MOAD).

..."We cannot avert natural disasters but we can make the farmers better prepared with the help of timely information through an efficient communication system,” MOAD’s senior official Shib Anand Shah told IRIN in Kathmandu.

For the first time, the Nepal government (with US$31 million from the World Bank) is expected to create an agricultural information management system tailored for farmers, said Shah.  According to almost all major risk analyses, Nepal is among the most climate-vulnerable countries worldwide.

MOAD is preparing to launch the system in collaboration with the semi-governmental Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) and the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) by early 2014 in 25 of the country’s 75 districts judged to be most vulnerable to natural disasters. The goal is to pilot the system in four districts by the end 2013.

Until now, the government has only monitored water levels in rivers through real-time, manual data collection, which limited its capacity to issue timely accurate warnings for hydro-meteorological hazards, according to the World Bank.

The new information system will see the installation of three Doppler weather monitoring radars nationwide (WSR-88D - costing $2 million each) capable of forecasting heavy rainfall and drought through DHM...

Sunset on the flood-prone Rapti River in Nepal, shot by Ashokdhamala,Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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