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Meteorologists and Farmers Meet in Brazil to address Weather and Climate Challenges
Belo Horizonte/Geneva, 7 July 2010 (WMO) – Meteorologists and farmers from different regions of the world are gathering in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, (12-14 July) to address climate challenges related to agriculture and food production. While discussing weather and climate-related risks in agriculture, they will address “the livelihood crisis of the 450 million smallholder farmers around the world”. Recommendations from this international workshop will be considered by the Commission for Agricultural Meteorology of WMO which holds its 15th session from 15 to 21 July also in Belo Horizonte.
Timely weather and climate forecasts are of crucial importance to facilitate on-farm operational decisions, but also to adapt to climate change. Therefore, WMO experts will suggest ways and means to implement new and appropriate tools for dissemination of weather and climate products and services, especially in regions where farmers are most vulnerable to weather and climate extremes. Together with farmers, they will review climate change risk management in adapting strategic plans to reduce the potential impacts of climate change for farmers and review the use of weather risk insurance strategies and schemes to reduce the vulnerability of the farming communities to weather and climate risks. The international workshop will recommend suitable policy options for enhancing weather and climate services for the farming community in different parts of the world.
The international workshop and the session of the Commission for Agricultural Meteorology of WMO will take place at a critical time for the agricultural community, since the global population is projected to grow from the present 6.5 billion to over 8 billion in 2030 and over 9 billion by 2050. To feed the growing populations, global food production has to increase by over 50% by 2030 and has to nearly double by 2050. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the chronically hungry reached one billion in 2009, while 31 countries are in a state of severe food crisis requiring emergency aid, of which 20 are in Africa. In addition, the frequency and intensity of natural disasters including flood, droughts, tropical cyclones, or wild fires have been rising in the recent years and will most likely continue to do so, therefore adding emergency to the situation.
In order to meet the food, fodder, fibre and renewable agri-energy needs of the rapidly growing populations, information, predictions and early warnings generated by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) are vital elements for ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources and increase agricultural production. In many countries, the NMHS, in partnership with academic and private sector service providers, already provide a wide range of information and advisory services, including the historical climate data and products; weather, climate, air quality, and river forecasts; warning services for all forms of meteorological, hydrological and oceanographic hazards; projections and scenarios of future human-induced climate change; as well as scientific advice and investigations.
But the challenge is that there is a lack of awareness in the farming community, in developing countries in particular, of the available and potential weather and climate services. One of the objectives of the international workshop is to obtain feedback from farmers from different regions of the world on the extent to which current weather and climate services assist them in coping with various weather and climate risks and enhance their productivity in their farms. Projections of climate change and climate variability have generated a sense of urgency for closer collaboration between the farming community and the NMHS.
WMO, the Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia (INMET-Brazil), University of Viçosa, the Secretaria de Estado de Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento de Minas Gerais, the Secretaria de Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior de Minas Gerais, FUNDAG, FUNARBE, FAPEMIG and the Sociedad Brasileira de Agrometeorologia are organizing an international workshop on “Addressing the Livelihood Crisis of Farmers: Weather and Climate Services” together with co-sponsors including FAO, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), the Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN), Météo-France, the United States Department of Agriculture and National Center for AgroMeteorology (NCAM) in the Republic of Korea. On 15 July, the Secretary-General of WMO, Mr Michel Jarraud, will deliver a statement at the opening of the fifteenth session of the WMO Commission for agricultural meteorology which follows the international workshop.
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