Weather service

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Waiting for the sun

I woke up to a glorious morning today. The skies were clear. And the heavens promised a warm, sunny day.

That’s how it’s supposed to be at this time of the year – warm, sunny and bright: perfect weather for harvesting paddy. And that’s why some of our farmers, prompted by BBS’s forecast for sunny weather, have begun to harvest their crop.

But the farmers who harvested their paddy a few days ago and, as is required, left them to dry in their fields were in for some anxious moments yesterday. It had rained the previous day and almost all of yesterday. And they feared that another day of rain would destroy their crop and an entire year’s worth of hard labour. So, naturally, they are delighted at the possibility that today’s sun will quickly dry their rain soaked paddy.

This happened last year too. And the year before. Our farmers had to deal with unseasonal rain and were left literally praying for the sun to come out so that the paddy they had harvested would not rot in the rain.

Our farmers forecast weather at this time of the year by expecting the previous week’s weather to continue for the next two to three days. Some of them combine that estimate with BBS TV’s weather forecast. But BBS’s predictions, which are based on data from the Ministry of Agriculture’s meteorological center, can be notoriously unreliable. So every year, at this time of the year, our farmers spend many anxious days trying to guess the best time to harvest their crop.

Much of this anxiety is unnecessary. Many websites – AccuWeather and BBC, for example – provide free satellite images and weather forecasts for Bhutan. Their forecasts are also not accurate. But at least they provide satellite images and show weather patterns. And gewog administration officers, RNR extension workers and the farmers themselves could use that information to develop a clearer picture of the weather pattern.

But we can do a better job; we can go much further to reduce the anxiety among our farmers. That would be possible by purchasing professional weather forecasting services, and distributing that information, as and when needed, through TV or other media, to our farmers. That wouldn’t cost much. But that would help our farmers immensely. And that’s what the government should be doing.

 

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  1. Simple and straight ……but the HIT is narrowed down to the government, Perhaps to HIT from different angle irrespective of whether the issue is silly or minor, is OL`s alys constitutional duty….i dotn know?

  2. Hon’ble OL,

    At outset let me thank your excellency for bringing this topic.
    I would like to enlighten lynpo about the aforesaid topic.
    The daily weather forecasting information to BBS is given by Meteorology Division, Department of Hydro-met Services under Ministry of Economic Affairs.Initially it was hydro-meteorological services division under Dept. of Energy,MoEA.The division was upgraded to department in December 2011.

    Currently, I am also one of the employee of the Department of Hydro-met Services working as Engineer under meteorology division.We operate and maintain 76 meteorological stations.

    We do daily weather forecasting using satelite images given my Indian Meteorological Department,NOAA,Thai met etc and also we have our Numerical weather prediction products which will give accuracy between 80-90%.Nonetheless, there needs to have lot of improvement and support from the govt.

    Drawbacks:
    1. Our weather forecasting is is accurate,though not 100%according to our report submitted to BBS ,we have given the correct information.
    2.Since BBS broadcast the weather information,they don’t have special skills in broadcasting weather information.Actually, meteorologists are required to broadcast such information.
    3.people hardly view the weather information broadcast by BBS.
    4.Public lacks awareness on weather and climate.
    5.Govt. need to build the hydro-meteorological institution in Bhutan.
    6.This is the post monsoon period and still rain is expected.Besides,monsoon has not withdrawn.

    For your information, your excellency may visit our office which is located within the premises of MoEA.or kindly contact 323703,Meteorology Division.
    Thank you la.

    • Dear Yendra,

      Thank you for taking the time to explain the good work that your department is doing. In fact, someone in BBS had told me that their weather forecasts were from MOA. I stand corrected. And I apologise.

      Your comment comes as very good news. You have access to and generate enough information to forecast the weather accurately …. accurately enough to help our farmers plan their rice harvests, at least. The problem is that we don’t seem to be using your information intelligently. The MOA clearly needs to play a more active role in communicating weather patterns to our farmers. And, yes, it would help to develop BBS’s capacity to broadcast your information more effectively.

      Once again, thanks.

      Tshering

  3. Bmobile and Tashi cell could have a dail up service for the forecast, it could even be toll free subsidized by the MOA as a service to the poor farmers.
    Almost all our villages have mobile coverage, even where there is no electricity and TV.

  4. OL,
    It is people like you going all out to find some one to blame. Please contact the officials in the gewog and dzongkhag and find out whether they have put out notices to farmers not to rush the harvests since the forecast clearly predicted rains on those days. Inspite of that they have gone ahead on their own will and when the rain came you are acting as if the government is repsonsible for causing it. It happened last year and the year before and they never seem to learn just as you don’t seem to do as well. Please grow up man!!!

  5. Domchosertong says:

    Hon’ble OL

    I seldom write any comments on your blog la, though I follow it every time. But here I would like to share some of my though for I often deal with such meteorological data for many of my research work la. I agree with Yendra, Bhutan need to established more meteorological stations, for more accurate data not will it only help the weather forecasting but many more things like catchment water discharge etc. Its high time that our government should support for such research facilities and take suggestion and feedback from research base.There is strong need for the information sharing among the agencies la. Till now each agencies doing there own work la like for example WWF is working on some similar research like weather station establishment. As suggest by your Hon’ble, its time that Bhutan should procure latest and frequent satellite images which can even monitor which part of country is creating more deforestation. Farmer should be provided best information based on research finding la.

  6. Dorji Tshering says:

    On the subject of empowering farmers with mobile phone, IKSL in India can provide an interesting example.
    Illeterate farmers get 5 phone calls per day with a 1 minute message in their local language giving agricultural advise, targetted to their area.

    Even Obama referred to the service when he was visiting India.

    http://www.e-agriculture.org/content/iksl-india-magri-programme-case-study-gsma-fund

  7. you Excellency,
    Thank you for taking the words of my colleague positively. This is in continuation to our presentation to you and all the delegates at the world Water Day celebration at Changangkha on March 22, 2012.

    To take it further, Drukpa and Your Excellency for suggestions.
    In the next FYP, DHMS- Department of Hydro-Met Services is working with UNDP and planning to extend the network+ collaborating with the Community Information Centers to provide more relaible and easy access information about weather to our gewog centers!
    Toll Free number is also in the pipeline.
    Cheers!

  8. Pardon me Hon’ble OL, for once in the beginning of your article you sounded that the DPT government deliberately made the rain. Before you write such articles I think you should put a bit more effort in collecting factual information. Take it or leave it.

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