Weather and climate information of different lead times need to be translated to make informed decisions and for better management of resources and risks. For instance, farmers in a community will be in better position to avert postharvest loses if they are informed on the rainfall possibility during paddy harvest. Similarly, advisories on crop management practices using agro-climatic resources will go a long way in enhancing food and nutritional security. Bhutanese farming system is predominantly rain-fed and is highly sensitive to climate variability and extreme weather events triggered by climate change. Changing rainfall patterns and climate related hazards pose high risks to the farming communities. Farmers frequently experience crop losses due to droughts, windstorms, hailstorms, disease outbreaks and erratic monsoon. Such crop losses to these elements could be adapted and mitigated through effective agro-meteorology services.
In pursuit of adopting more climate smart technologies and in transforming Bhutanese farming system, the Department of Agriculture (DoA) launched the Agromet Decision Support System (ADSS) on 16 March 2021. The event was graced by Ms. Kinlay Tshering, the director of the department. The decision support system was developed by the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard System (RIMES and funding support through the Hydromet Services and Disaster Resilience Regional Project (HSDRRP) of the World Bank.
ADSS is a web portal that can be accessed at www.agromet.gov.bt and is envisioned to generate and disseminate specific crop advisories of precise location based on weather forecast from the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) using machine learning algorithm. The DoA and NCHM will continue to work towards a common goal to provide reliable and efficient agro-met advisories for farming communities for better farm decision making.
The panel of ADSS consists of the following key components:
- a) Crop database, which stores location-specific crop data with web interface for data handling and database management
- b) Forecast data management system, which stores model outputs, with modules for generating weather patterns, real-time comparison with observed meteorological data, and archiving of datasets
- c) Agro-advisory expert database, which stores crop and location-specific predefined advisories that correspond to weather patterns and environmental conditions, with web interface for expert inputs
- d) Dissemination system for issuance of ADSS products, which include long-term historical meteorological observation data, normal values for daily and monthly climate based on historical meteorological data, observation data from the immediate past, forecast information (3 days, 10 days divided into 2 pentads, monthly and seasonal), and crop management advisories
- e) Feedback system, which allows users to give online feedback and recommendations for improving the system.
The ADSS underpins the Agrometeorology Program that was instituted under the Agriculture Research and Extension Division in 2019. The system is coordinated from DoA HQ. The agromet focals based in Agriculture Research and Development Centres (ARDC), National Plant Protection Centre, National Soil Services Centre, Information Communication and Technology Division of the Ministry work closely in co-producing the farm advisories.
Submitted by: Tshering Wangchen and Lakey, DoA