With the help of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Macedonia is upgrading its weather forecast system in order to help farmers to better plan and organize their production, making thus its agriculture less vulnerable to climate change. Macedonia is one of the most arid countries in Europe with a strong share of agriculture in its economy. This is why helping farmers transition to more climate change-resilient systems is considered as a priority, FAO said.
The upgraded system will soon provide much awaited weather data to thousands of farmers, FAO said in a statement.
The first weather station was installed in Strumica, and two more will follow soon in Gradsko and Kočani. The weather stations will provide the country’s Hydrometeorological Service with information on precipitation, wind and other weather conditions important for agricultural production.
“The project will not only provide automatic weather stations but also support the digitization of the data,” said Reuben Sessa, FAO climate change and energy coordinator for Europe and Central Asia, and project leader, adding that weather data for the past 20 years is now being digitized and made available online.
Combined with new data, this will enable the analysis of climatic trends, and improve forecasts and agro-meteorological information for farmers, FAO said, stressing that advance information on precipitation and other weather factors is essential for a productive season in a country like Macedonia.
The combination of arid climate and soils with low water-holding capacity limits crop yields, while changing precipitation patterns are reducing the amount of water available for agriculture.
Helping small-scale farmers priority
Agriculture has a strong share in the Macedonian economy and employs thousands. The small-scale farmers are responsible for about 87 percent of the country’s total agricultural production value.
According to FAO, those farmers need timely weather information to optimize their interventions, and maintain production of wheat, maize, oil seeds, peppers, beans and other vegetables.
Apart of providing hydro-meteorological equipment to fill the data gap, new FAO project also aims to strengthen the institutional framework, and update the knowledge of public officials dealing with the sector.
To this end, a workshop has been held in Skopje this week. It was attended by 15-20 officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Water Economy. Participants have looked at the institutional and policy framework from the perspective of how the country’s agriculture is coping with climate change.
They have learned about measuring the climate outcomes of certain policy decisions, and how to devise environmental indicators for agricultural policy analysis. The curriculum also covered identification of major climate-induced diseases of fruits.