District-level Agro-Meteorological Advisory Service launched

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New Delhi, June 4 (UNI) The Government today announced the launch of an agro-meteorological advisory service in 575 districts-- which translates weather forecast into weather advisory to help farmers manage their crops better-- and said the entire country would be covered by the service shortly.

''The Government will also launch a 24-hour weather channel this year to make the service interactive,'' Earth Sciences Minister Kapil Sibal told a press conference.

As part of the advisory service, IMD has started a network of 125 automatic weather stations (AWSs).

By next year, 550 AWSs and 1,350 automatic rain gauge stations (ARGSs) will be set up, so that every district in the country will have at least on AWS and two ARGs.

In addition, a network of 55 Doppler weather radars has been planned, of which 12 will be installed this year, Mr Sibal said.

Explaining the rationale for launching the new weather advisory service, he said the information given by the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) was based on only four day weather forecast and covered 127 agro-climatic zones.

''The system was not adequate to deal with crop management issues owing to weather variability prevalent at sub-district levels.

Besides, the problem of spatial variability in weather gets compounded due to variable cropping system, farm operations and soil conditions at the sub-agroclimatic zone level.'' About the new service, he said, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had already started issuing district-level quantitative weather forecast up to five days from June 1.

''At present, 575 districts are covered.... In times to come, all the districts in the country will be covered,'' he added.

The farecast relate to information about rainfall, maximum and minimum temperatures, wind speed and direction, relative humidity and coolness. In addition, weekly cumulative rainfall forecast is also provided.

These are then disseminated to regional meteorological centres and meteorological centres of IMD located in different states.

These centres then communicate the information to 130 AgroMet Field Units (ADMUs) located with State Agricultural Universities and institutes of Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

Based on the forecast products and the crop information available from districts, the AMFUs prapare district-wise agro-advisories.

The weather advisories are then disseminated to the farmers through All India Radio, Doordarshan, private television channels, FM radios, newspapers internet and district-level intermediaries such as kisan call centres, district agricultural offices, community service centres and NGOs.

''This is going to become interactive with the launch of the weather channel,'' Mr Sibal said.

UNI YJ RL BD1835

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