Last kharif, guar prices had ballooned to as much as Rs 30,000-35,000 a quintal, but a majority of the farmers did not get more than Rs 6,000 for the commodity. It was another season for the traders who had knocked off a major scoop of the price increase. How do we ensure that farmers get their due share in terms of commodity prices?

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is working on a solution involving linking of commodity market to agro-meteorological information. “Developing a platform to link commodity market with agro-meteorological data is an effective way to ensure better prices to farmers and avoid the guar-kind of situation that we saw last season,” says Dr L.S. Rathore, IMD Director-General.

Demand forecast

He explains how weatherman can help farmers in the commodity trading market. “Commodity prices depend on demand and supply. Demand is essentially market information, controlled and provided by traders. Information on supplies, which is dependent on climatic condition, can be provided by us – essentially in the form of crop yield forecast. Once the two are linked, farmers will be better placed to demand better prices,” he told Business Line on the sidelines of an event here today.

The link is being developed at the ground, State and national levels, involving different departments, including the Department of Space, National Crop Forecast Centre and the commodity exchanges. “It is at a very early stage, but it will eventually come,” Rathore said.

Crop yield estimates

The IMD, on its part, is in the process of sharpening its crop yield forecast capabilities to make the data suitable to be linked with market information, which can be easily digested by the farmers.

As part of this, IMD is expanding its agromet advisory services, which provide agro-meteorological information to farmers through, from the district to the block level. “We want to go to the block level, covering over 6,000 blocks. This will require an investment of about Rs 100 crore,” he said.

The department, which is currently reaching out to 33 lakh farmers through SMS, intends to expand coverage to one crore farmers, apart from adding 34 doppler radars, in the 12{+t}{+h} Plan.

amitmitra@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 23, 2013)
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