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Pioneering Meeting of Meteorologists and Farmers To Boost Practical Use of Climate Information
Belo Horizonte/Geneva, 15 July 2010 (WMO) – Climate threats to food security and to livelihoods bolstered the first-ever meeting of meteorologists and farmers at the global level. The three-day discussions (12-14 July) among some 150 participants from more than 50 countries from all geographical regions led to a comprehensive set of recommendations aimed at exploiting the full potential of weather and climate services for reducing the vulnerability of farming communities. The recommendations will be considered by the Commission for Agricultural Meteorology of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which today began its 15th (quadrennial) session (15 to 21 July). Both events are hosted by Brazil, in Belo Horizonte.
The recommendations result from an extensive discussion among farmers and agro-meteorologists from all over the world: the former explained their concerns caused by climate change and variability and the kind of information they need to address those concerns; the latter explained what weather and climate information is currently available and what is needed to do more.
National meteorological services need to be further resourced to take part in the development process. “No adaptation in socio-economic sectors can be implemented without the work of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services”, Mr Mama Konate stressed. Mr Konate is Director-General of the National Meteorological Service of Mali, and Chair of the UNFCCC/SBSTA, one of the two main Commissions for negotiations among Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will hold its 16th session (COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico, later this year.
Many social and economic factors affect agricultural vulnerability, but climate was among the main factors shaping the livelihood strategies of farmers. The workshop agreed on the need to strengthen the two-way dialogue between the providers of weather and climate information and the farmers to ensure that user requirements are understood and met. WMO Regional Climate Outlook Forums were a useful platform for such interaction. Farmers should have ownership and an effective voice in the development of weather and climate products and services. Weather risk insurance schemes for small farmers should be promoted and improved, for instance through better use of weather indexes.
According to the recommendations, agro-meteorological station density should be increased, especially in developing countries. There was need for more localized climate forecasts and assessments with high spatial and temporal resolution. In this context, the following products were mentioned: historical risk/hazard patterns; analysis of meteorological, climatic and crop data; assessments of the temporal and spatial dimensions of climate impacts; crop yield forecasts; crop growing period forecasts; forecasts of plant diseases and insect/pests.
Capacity-building and communication were critical to ensure optimal use of climate science and predictions. Information delivery systems, both traditional systems and modern tools, need to be enhanced, especially for remote areas. At the same time, more effort should go into developing famers’ knowledge and awareness about climate services and how to use them. WMO roving seminars for farmers were cited as an effective means for such engagement.
Mr R.S. Paroda, member of the High-level Taskforce for a Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), presented the work being undertaken to shape the Framework. He considered the workshop as a perfect example of the much needed dialogue among providers and users of climate services. Wide support for the GFCS was expressed with several organizations expressing keen interest in contributing to global efforts to protect the livelihood of farmers, and to enhance food security.
The international workshop on “Addressing the Livelihood Crisis of Farmers: Weather and Climate Services” was organized by 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, 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. (See also press release no 891)
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