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EXPERTS RECOMMEND AGRICULTURAL DROUGHT INDICES FOR IMPROVED UNDERSTANDING OF FOOD PRODUCTION CONDITIONS
Geneva/Murcia, 8 June 2010 (WMO) – Nineteen scientists from all regions adopted recommendations for monitoring agricultural droughts that should ensure better understanding of conditions critical for regular food production. An important recommendation based on a review of current practices, calls for moving beyond the use of just rainfall data in the computation of indices for the description of agricultural drought and its impacts on agriculture.
The recommendations were adopted at a meeting organized from 2 to 4 June in Murcia, Spain, by WMO with the support of UNISDR and hosted by the Hydrographic Confederation of Segura (https://www.chsegura.es/chs/cuenca/sequias/escasez/#reunion).
The meeting should be seen against the background of stagnant agricultural productivity and rising food deficits. Increasing global demand for cereals to feed the growing populations will require a 40 percent increase in grain production in 2020. The challenge is to revive agricultural growth at the global level and extend it to those left behind. In developing countries, where adoption of improved technologies is too slow to counteract the adverse effects of varying environmental conditions, climate fluctuations, especially droughts, are the main factors which prevent a regular supply and availability of food, the key to food security.
In the context of climate variability and change, water scarcity and food security, it is important to use more comprehensive data on rainfall, temperature and soils in computing drought indices. Closer cooperation is required therefore among authorities responsible for addressing drought issues at local, national and regional levels. The experts also saw strong need for better soil information and establishment of soil moisture monitoring networks where they do not currently exist.
In order to encourage the use of common agricultural drought indices around the world, common frameworks for drought monitoring/early warning need to be developed. The experts therefore recommended that WMO conducts a survey to compile and assess the capacities and future needs of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in building such common frameworks for national agricultural drought early warning systems.
The meeting responds to a call in the Lincoln Declaration adopted in December 2009 for the establishment of a working group to recommend the most comprehensive indices to characterize agricultural droughts (see press releases 870 and 872).
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