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Agro-Meteorology Can Boost Food Security - Expert

Agro-Meteorology Can Boost Food Security - Expert

PRESS RELEASES: 2 May 2011

[Nadi, Fiji – May 2] “Food production in the Pacific need not decrease as a result of climate change. On the contrary, farmers armed with relevant weather pattern information can plan their food production and increase yields in the face of climate change.”

These are the words of Roger Eduardo Rivero Vega, a world renowned agro-meteorologist from the Cuban National Meteorology Institute (INSMET) and the lead trainer at the Workshop on Assessment of Climate Change Impacts in Agriculture that started today.

“You will learn about climate change modeling here and crop modeling, or the response of a crop in relation to the changing environment,” Mr Vega told participants, who are mainly agriculture experts or weather specialists from 13 Pacific Island countries –Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu; as well as representatives from East Timor and the Maldives.

The three week workshop is organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre in coordination with the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and with support from the Nadi Meteorology Service. It covers areas like climate change scenarios, climate change impact assessments, weather and climate forecasts for agriculture and the models that determine crop production based on climate change.

The SPC’s Acting Director Land Resources Division and Team Leader Land Management and Resources Policy delivered opening remarks at the workshop.

“The agricultural sector is especially significant for our islands, as so many of our citizens earn their living and feed their families from their plantations and gardens, but now we are increasingly witnessing the negative impacts of climate change in this sector. Given the urgent need to defend our livelihoods and ensure a modest yet dignified existence for our peoples, it is critical that we understand and manage these climate change impacts on our agriculture, and adjust our practices accordingly,” he said.

He urged the workshop participants to take full advantage of the knowledge and experiences shared by their counterparts and the trainers.

SPREP’s Dean Solofa reminded the participants that food security was a high priority for the Pacific.

“We need to provide more support to agriculture and increase food security through weather services. Meteorological services can provide a lot more to farmers than before,” he said.

At the end of the training, the agricultural and meteorological officers will be equipped with skills to better apply and disseminate weather and climate information for the benefit of the farming community. When farmers are armed with the knowledge of changing weather patterns, they can better plan their planting, and protect themselves from weather related losses and pests and diseases.

The workshop is an activity of UNDP’s “South-South Cooperation between Pacific and Caribbean Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management” project. The project is funded by UNDP’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and the UNDP-Japan Partnership Fund, with in-kind contributions from UNDP Pacific Centre from where it is coordinated.

ENDS

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