How temperature forecast can cut losses for farmers
But things didn’t go as well as his expectations. “The untimely heat in February month has affected our crops – both quality and quantity,” said Yadav to this newspaper.
Published: 14th March 2023 08:17 AM | Last Updated: 14th March 2023 08:24 AM | A+A A-
NEW DELHI: Lalchand Yadav (62) a wheat grower from the Alwar district of Rajasthan, is a worried man. He owns over 4 hectares of land and has sown wheat and mustard this year. The high market price of wheat and good rainfall in October-November last year motivated him to increase wheat acreage.
But things didn’t go as well as his expectations. “The untimely heat in February month has affected our crops – both quality and quantity,” said Yadav to this newspaper. Confused and worried, Yadav said that if he had a little idea of the high temperatures in February, he would have recalibrated his irrigation schedule differently. Another farmer Man Singh (36) from Gujarpurkhurd village spent another `4,000 on irrigation to keep his mustard crop alive.
“If there were any idea of such level of temperature, I would be better prepared,” said Singh, who owns a 1.2 hectares farm to support his 12 members’ family. Farmers in other regions share the predicament of Yadav over the early arrival of heatwave conditions which have caught farmers off guard. Weather vagaries impact crop productivity. It underscores the need for an early forecast of high temperatures in February and March. The month of February this year was the warmest month (average maximum temperature 29.5 degree Celsius) and fifth highest minimum temperature in the last 123 years. There are further predictions of heatwave-like conditions in March.
India’s top weather forecasting agency, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), has helped farmers to get accuracy about monsoon patterns. However, timely forecasting about rising temperature levels and heatwave-like conditions is the need of the hour. “I feel the time has come for the IMD to start making annual temperature forecasts on the pattern of monsoon forecasts every year,” says Devinder Sharma, Agriculture and Trade Policy Analyst. “Seasonal outlook for hot weather season should be predicted in January,” suggested Sharma.
ALSO READ | Maximum temperature in February may impact India's wheat production
Moreover, onion growers in Maharashtra faced a peculiar situation due to heat. A sudden rise in temperature around the middle of February caused high moisture content of Kharif onion produce prone to rot or quality deterioration. It made farmers bring onions to market before it gets perished, causing a price crash in Asia’s largest onion Mandi at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra.
Farmers started throwing their produce on roads.“Forecasting of temperatures and heatwave-like conditions on the pattern of monsoon would be a good idea, and crops can be saved at least in the net sown area,” says Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, former DG at ICAR. Dr Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, DG, IMD said the government has already been forecasting and informing concerned central and state authorities to take appropriate action.
“We provide timely – weekly and monthly – agro-meteorological advisory services to concerned crops in the particular district,” says Mohapatra. However, he agreed that there is a space for improvement. “There is still a scope for improvement in the forecast and providing information to farmers who can minimise losses by incorporating the appropriate and authentic information,” he said.
“The way early heat pattern is emerging, we need to contemplate our current approach for long-term benefits,” says a senior scientist at IMD.
ALSO READ | Maharashtra farmers make bonfire of onions in protest as prices tumble
Brace up for heatwave
The month of February this year was the warmest month (average maximum temperature 29.50C) with the fifth highest minimum temperature in the last 123 years
Timely forecasting about rising temperature levels and heatwave-like conditions is the need of the hour
The seasonal outlook for hot weather season should be predicted in January