If you want to respond creatively to climate variability you must also be aware of the climate.
Climate variability has impacts on the drivers of livelihood in a village – land, crops, livestock, water, vegetation, biodiversity, etc. We need to understand the impact of the various climate changes on these various components as they for the basis of livelihoods for people in rural India.
Weather predictability is important. Weather is important. If the soil and water conditions are good, and atmospheric condition is good, the farmers will get a good crop. When not, farmers can be driven to suicide. Climate variability, thus, has an impact on the life quality and income levels. When there are extreme metrological events, be they unexpected drought or long drought, be they heavy rains, or delays in rains, the entire system of livelihood is thrown off balance. Delays in rains mean you don’t get the season that will allow crops to mature. Similarly, a good rain beginning but dry patches towards the end lead to burning out of crops or great reduction in production.
How does one deal with this high variability? How does one mitigate the risks? We believe that risks can be mitigated, to a certain extent, at the local level. For instance one can prepare contingency plans that will help farmers to make decisions about the crops they will plant or prepare alternative plans in case of difficulties. It is in this context that the Agromet component of the Climate Change Adaptation program comes into play.
Currently weather stations are located at the talukas level. But often this is not found to be useful as the weather experienced by various villages vary even within a distance of 5 kms., as the topography of region itself is varied. Even if it were to be appropriate and useful, the problem still remains unsolved as the farmers barely consider these weather measurements while planning their agricultural activities. In the earlier days the elders of the village planned their agricultural activities based on their sensing the weather and their observations of surrounding flora and fauna. Most of this indigenous knowledge is now, however, lost. The district level advisories provided by the IMD (Indian Meteorological Department) are not utilised by the most of the farmers.
We have thus, given this situation, installed automated agri-met stations in every village that will to measure and collect real-time weather data. Wasundhara Sevaks, youth from the villages, have been trained on type of weather data, how to read, interpret and download the same. These Wasundhara Sevaks are expected to be responsible for weather data collection, displaying the information on the village “board” everyday, preventive maintenance of the equipment and related agro-meteorology work in respective villages.
A consortium Agriculture Department IMD and MPKV will be formed which will provide crop advisories based on local weather conditions. These advisories will be broadcast to the farmers and villagers by SMS.
One expects that the result will be an informed and considered crop planning that will help the farmers to weather the weather conditions.