Operational weather information services to ryots
M. J. PRABU
The Agro Met Advisory Unit gives information on weather conditions.
THE REGIONAL Meteorological Centre in Chennai has a separate department called Agro Met Advisory Unit, which disseminates information on the prevailing weather conditions such as rainfall, humidity and wind speed to the farming community.
According to Mr. S. Natarajan, Director, Agriculture Meteorology, Regional Met Centre, Chennai, the Department of Agro Met in Chennai, issues bi-weekly bulletins every Monday and Thursday for the farmers of the southern regions.
The bulletin deals with the prevailing weather conditions and any sudden change possible in the climate in the next 48 hours.
The bulletin gives detailed information on crop varieties and stages of their growth, whether the crop is in its sowing, flowering or harvesting phase, according to B. Ramakrishnan, Assistant Meteorologist of the Agro Met Advisory Unit.
Replying to a query as to whether the delayed monsoon will affect crop sowing and yield, Mr Natarajan said the delay in monsoon for a week or ten days might not have a serious impact on crop yield or growth.
He said, "Prolonged drought and high humidity may give rise to Downy mildew syndrome and Head mould infestations in sorghum varieties and blast brown infestation, leaf spot and grain discolouration in paddy. Similarly, crops such as cotton, sugarcane, pulses and groundnut are also affected by the delay."
Can farmers follow any alternate cropping patterns in the event of successive droughts? "Farmers follow a set crop pattern which is generational.
Irrespective of regular monsoon or failure they adopt a standard practice of sowing and harvesting," said Mr. S.R. Ramanan, Director Area Cyclone Warning Centre.
"Recent droughts in the past two years have caused a complicated situation for them regarding water availability. It would be in the best interest of farmers if they could identify crop varieties, which require less water and match their crop calendar with rainfall measure."
The Agricultural Meteorology Division of the Indian Meteorological department in Pune has a separate department to monitor drought situation in the country. Called `Aridity Anomaly Map' it gives an idea about the balance between rainfall and evaporation loss. The map is issued once a fortnight.
On being asked whether the onset of the southwest monsoon could solve the water crisis for the farmers? Mr Ramanan said, "The southwest monsoon is a major rainfall provider for the entire country except Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir."
"At present the monsoon is delayed by four days. It is now centred over coastal Karnataka and some parts of South Andhra Pradesh. But the delay however would not affect the quantity of rains in the catchment areas." The Agro Met Advisory Unit can be contacted at 044- 28230091.
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