India’s agriculture sector employs over 50% of the total workforce, and contributes 17-18% to the country’s GDP. Bihar, known to be the poorest state in India, has 77% of its workforce employed in the agriculture sector. In a country and state that relies so heavily on agriculture for their livelihood and workforce, unpredictability in weather patterns, that is enhanced by climate change, is a growing threat to India’s agriculture industry.
A new article, published by an interdisciplinary and international team of researchers supported by CPO’s International Research and Applications Project (IRAP), described key findings about weather and climate information accessible to rural farmers in Bihar, India. Major information communication gaps were identified between those who produce the weather and climate forecasts, and the end-users (such as smallholder farmers). The main issues were: 1) specificity and trust in the information, 2) social factors such as gender social/cultural norms and literacy, 3) lack of resources to interpret and perceive/manage risk in regards to climate information, and 4) lack of institutional capacity to deliver and use climate information.
The study confirmed that access and usability of both weather and climate information is strongly valued in Bihar. More specifically, there is a high demand for information regarding monsoon onsets, as the rainfall amount directly impacts the types of rice crops farmers may plant, and dictates which irrigation strategies they may need to utilize in periods of drought. By continuing to foster open dialogue between farmers and institutions such as meteorological centers and universities with meteorological expertise resources, Bihar farmers will be able to continue to access and properly utilize weather and climate forecast information for decision-making and risk management.
This research was led by Agarwal Ashnul from the Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early-warning System for Asia and Africa (RIMES), along with his colleagues Sawant Mitesh (RIMES), Ganesan Srinivasan (RIMES), Jim Buzier (University of Arizona), Timothy Finan (University of Arizona), K.K. Singh (India Meteorological Department), and Sandeep Kumar (India Meteorological Department), and was funded by the NOAA International Research and Applications Program (IRAP) through a competition focused on enhancing societal preparedness in the face of climate-related impacts.
For more information, contact Lisa Vaughan.
Image credit: Jim Buzier, University of Arizona