Correct wind forecast could have averted Vidarbha farmers' tragedy

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New Delhi, Feb 17 (UNI) Were it the winds that drove cotton farmers to suicide in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra? An expert says a small weather prediction set-up in the area could have averted the tragedy.

The team that inquired into the causes of the cotton crop failure in Vidarbha found after intensive investigation that the high speed winds prevented the pesticides from hitting their target and made the repeated exercise of spray by the cotton farmers fruitless.

Around a thousand farmers are estimated to have committed suicide in the drought-rone Vidarbha region during the past two years.

Had the farmers been aware about how winds would behave in the period they had chosen for pesticide spray, they would have saved their crops, says Dr Isaac Manuel, an expert working with the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation. He had come here to participate in a seminar on' Climate Change and South and South East Asia' here.

Speaking on the need of evolving an strategy for adpatation to the inevitable climate change, especially in regard to agriculture, Dr Mauel said there was the need of meteorological set ups at the block and district level to predict day today weather prediction so that farmers in the area could determine and plan their agricultural practices and activities.

''At present we have the India Meteorological Department at the Central and regional level, but no such weather prediction set-up at the lower level, and it was high time that we had it, as the impending climate change was going to affect agriculture in a big way,'' he said.

Dr Manuel said that as per the IPCC report, there was going to be one to two degree rise in the mean air temperature by 2050 which would lead to melting of snow and retreat of glaciers in the Himalayas. Such a development would result in severe shortage in water availability in the rivers like Ganga and Brahmaputra, and they would become more like seasonal rivers, having water only during the monsoon.

''And in such a scenario, it does not require an expert to imagine the impact on the agriculture of the country,'' he said.

Today, the farm sector was requiring different types of interventions. Some of these were designing different cropping pattern to suit the changes in climate, developing new varities, water harvesting, groundwater monitoring and promoting bio crops.

And along with all this strengthening of the meteorological department and its expansion would go a long way in helping the farmers to cope with the impact of climate change on agriculture.


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