Of the many handicaps that an average Indian farmer has to live with is the lack of information about when it will rain and when it won’t.
A survey by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has shown that timely delivery of weather advisories to farmers had a significant impact on their income.
Union Minister @drharshvardhan releases National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) report on Estimating the economic benefits of Investment in Monsoon Mission and High Performance Computing Facilities
— PIB India (@PIB_India) November 3, 2020
The survey helped assess the economic impact of India’s investments on the National Monsoon Mission (NMM) and High Performance Computing Facilities (HPC). The study concluded that farmers who take precautionary measures based on agrometeorology advisories from the government reported a 50 per cent increase in income over a period of time.
A total of 3,965 farmers across 121 districts of 11 states were questioned to reach the conclusion.
The fact that weather advisories actually help farmers do not come as a surprise because India Meteorological Department (IMD) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) send district-level agrometeorological advisories to over 22 million farmers every day.
The advisories also recommend suitable changes or advice for farm operations like management of sowing, changing crop variety, spraying pesticides for disease control and managing irrigation.
Indian farmers have always been at the receiving end of climate-related vagaries that damage crop and push the farmers into economic upheavals. As per a study, extreme weather events impacted over 14 million hectares of agriculture lands in India in 2019-20.
The World Risk Index 2020 concluded that India was ‘poorly prepared’ to deal with ‘climate reality’, hence, it was more vulnerable to extreme natural disasters.
The NCAER survey paid more emphasis on understanding the effectiveness of agrometeorology advisories in mitigating risks in those districts where a majority of farm land is rain-fed. Importantly, such districts contribute about 40 per cent of the country’s foodgrain production and host a good number of India’s poor.
The study found that about 98 per cent farmers modified at least one of the nine critical practices based on the weather advisories provided by IMD and ICAR.
The nine practices they changes/modified are:
1. Change variety of crop
2. Storage arrangement of harvested crop
3. Change harvest day as per the weather forecast
4. Modify sowing date
5. Change crop altogether
6. Modify ploughing/land preparation plan
7. Change pesticide application schedule
8. Modify fertiliser application schedule
9. Change irrigation schedule
A farmer acting on such advisories prevented damage to crop and increased his/her income.
Besides, each household increased its profit by ₹12,500 per year due to improvement in weather forecast, the survey found.