The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday said it is working at a brisk pace to issue localised weather forecasting to all 6,500 blocks across 660 districts in the country by 2020 and help as many as 9.5 crore farmers deal with the vagaries of weather.
However, the most challenging task would be to enhance the accuracy of weather forecasts and to make agromet advisory services (AAS) more useful and user friendliness, it added.
At present, IMD issues district level advisories. In 2018, it tied up with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to extend weather forecast and AAS at the block level.
"A lot of progress has been made since signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ICAR. The work is at a faster pace…. We are recruiting and training people," IMD Deputy Director General S D Attri told PTI on the sidelines of a Ficci event.
The pilot study is underway in 200 blocks. The target is to cover 6,500 blocks in 660 districts by 2020, he said, adding that this will help farmers minimise weather-related crop losses.
Attri said that the IMD has a network of 130 agromet field units at district level for dissimilating the weather-based advisories. Efforts are being made to set such units in additional 530 districts in the country under the 'Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa' at Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs).
As of now, 4 crore farmers are receiving the district level weather forecast through SMS and mKisan portals. "The target is to cover 9.5 crore farmers by 2020 by extending the services at a block level," he added.
Earlier, addressing the event on agriculture extension, the IMD official stressed on the need for dissemination of AAS to farmers on a "wider scale" and convincing them about its positive impacts on a sustainable basis.
He also talked about the need to focus on awareness programmes to help farmers to become more self-reliant in dealing with weather and climate issues that affect agriculture production and also assist the farmers to further develop their adaptive capacity with improved planning and better management decisions.
Attri observed that IMD alone cannot reach all farmers and emphasised the need to take private sector and their innovative technologies in this area.
Echoing these views, ICAR Deputy Director General (agriculture extension) A K Singh said that public, private and non-government organisations (NGOs) need to work together in farm extension activities.
The ICAR, which is an agriculture research body, is carrying out extension work of taking new technologies to the farm fields through its 713 KVKs in the country.
On the other hand, the private companies and NGOs are also doing some work independently, mostly free of cost unlike other countries, he said.
Singh said there is a need to break the silo approach and work together and adopt models which can yield better results to farmers.