By 2020, 8.5 billion people will reside in developing countries. This reality dictates food security as a critical component of agricultural planning to support this burgeoning population.
With nearly 100 countries lacking early warning systems for weather patterns, the developing world cannot protect crop yields to feed a growing world. While increased food production is an important part of the puzzle, improved food security measures are the missing link.
India’s AgriMet Department of the Indian Meteorological Department is helping to solve this problem by sharing weather prediction technology and satellite data with Bhutan and seven other developing countries including Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Moldova, Dominica, Peru, Colombia and Burkina Faso.
Within India’s system, weather advisories are sent via text and voice messages to registered farmers. Registration is free and participating farmers have reported increased income. Indian scientists also plan to assist other countries in developing their own models for weather forecasting.
This comes on the heels of a warning from the World Meteorological Organization in March 2016 on World Meteorological Day. The initiative titled, “Hotter, drier, wetter. Face the Future,” recognizes 2015 as the hottest year on record and warning that these trends will continue for the next 50 years making weather prediction technology critical in the developing world.
Droughts, flooding, cyclones and heavy rain hit developing countries harder due to lack of preparation and time to evacuate. The effects of weather events are often cumulative in poor populations, making bad situations worse each time a new event occurs.
Global partnerships in weather prediction are a cost-effective way to address weather forecasting but are difficult to manage when a weather event threatens a smaller region. Global systems can also be more difficult for small, poor countries to access due to issues such as slow internet connections.
This makes regional partnerships for weather events a logical next step in forecasting due to closer proximity and easier methods of accessing a weather warning.
The goal for Bhutan and other developing countries is the implementation of long-range weather prediction technology and use of cost-effective toolkits such as rain gauges and measuring tools for soil moisture. While India will provide training and skills in this project, countries such as Canada and Norway will assist with grant funding to set up the weather station.
– Mandy Otis