Our ecosystem, agriculture and water supply are closely linked. In order to remain pertinent to its stakeholders – from small farms to multinational corporations – the WMO Commission for Agricultural Meteorology, which held its 16th session from 10–15 April in Antalya, Turkey, had to define its priorities for the next four years.
Toward this goal, the Commission considered the outcomes and recommendations of the International Conference for Promoting Weather and Climate Information for Agriculture and Food Security, which took place from 7–9 April, just before the session meeting. The Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water and State Meteorological Service hosted both events. The 96 Conference participants from 64 countries were organized in 7 technical sessions in which 26 papers were presented. These generated considerable discussion on a number of issues relevant to the Commission.
Amongst others, the Conference addressed how to balance demands for producing more food while using less water per unit of output; maximizing yields while protecting the ecosystem; and increasing resilience to natural climate variability and human induced climate change while minimizing the agricultural sector’s carbon footprint. The Conference also assessed the various weather and climate services currently available for the agricultural sector. It examined progress in monitoring, forecasting and preparedness, agricultural climate adaptation strategies, agro-climatic zoning for planning cropping systems, and changing land-use strategies.
In his keynote address on “Food Security in a Warmer World: Wheat, viticulture, livestock and fisheries”, Dr Jim Salinger noted that there is a need for adaptation of cropping systems to climate change as part of good risk management. He further underlined that the management of grasslands will be crucial to supporting sustainable livestock populations with regards to climate and it is imperative to ensure sustainable marine fisheries for regional food security.
A presentation outlined how the Global Framework for Climate Service (GFCS), which includes agricultural production and food security among its four priorities areas, will address these issues through user-friendly climate services such as seasonal outlooks.
Following discussion of the Conference recommendations, the Commission established four focus areas of work: Operational Agricultural Meteorology; Science and Technology for Agricultural Meteorology; Natural Hazards and Climate Variability/Change in Agriculture; and Capacity Development in Agricultural Meteorology. It also established a new Management Group of 10 experts – 3 of which are women. Membership to expert and task teams will be established at the next Management Group meeting scheduled in fall.
The Commission awarded Certificates of Exceptional Service to Drs Kees Stigter (Netherlands) and Gian Piero Maracchi (Italy). Dr Stigter was a former president of the Commission from 1991 to 1999. The session was attended by 94 participants from 53 Member countries.