Delhi: In a country where close to 60 percent of
the 1.21 billion population still depends on agriculture for a
living, short and timely alerts to farmers about the weather have
led to economic benefits worth a whopping Rs.50,000 crore.
"The IMD (India Meteorological Department) has been providing very
accurate forecast at micro level, focused on small areas,"
Shailesh Nayak, secretary of the ministry of earth sciences, told
IANS in an interview.
"This information is then translated into information relevant for
farmers' use by the Agromet Advisory Service of IMD. This brings
around Rs.50,000 crore annually to the GDP (Gross Domestic
Product)," Nayak says.
While IMD dishes out the weather report, the Integrated Agromet
Advisory Service -- involving organisations like the Indian
Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Ministry of Agriculture
(Centre and State) and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) --
gives weather-based agro advisories specifically meant for the
The advisory is disseminated through several means of
communication, the latest being SMSs.
According to a National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER)
report, roughly 24 percent of farmers in over 550 districts are
either aware or using the Agromet services, while two million
farmers are availing the mobile SMS service which started over a
The report says the Rs.50,000 crore figure could rise to
Rs.211,000 crore if the entire farming community in the country
was to judiciously use the Agromet information and apply it to
"The advances in the weather forecasting system have made the
predictions more accurate than ever before. The Agromet service
even gives advice on what the farmer should do," says Nayak.
"For example, if a farmer sprays pesticides and the rain comes,
the pesticides will be washed away. Therefore, the Agromet will
advise them not to spray the pesticide. This way, resources are
saved and so are the crops," the secretary explained.
"Also, while sowing seeds, the seeding can be done according to
the forecast of rain. If farmers sow and there is no rain in time,
the seed spoils. Similarly at the time of cutting, the rain can
spoil the crop," he added.
The fishery advisory by the Met office has added Rs.34,000 crore
to the GDP, according to the NCAER report.
"Fishery advisories entail offering information to fishermen
cooperatives about the areas in the ocean where the fish catch is
likely to be high on a particular day," the report says.
"This, coupled with the information on the ocean state, enables
fishermen to plan fishing operations in an economically effective
manner in the least time," the report says.
Nayak also reveals that forecasts for natural disasters like
tsunamis and cyclones have also become more accurate.
"This translates into economic benefits as preparedness saves life
and property," he says.
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