MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture is setting up 84 units of automatic weather stations (AWS) and upgrading its 10 agro-meteorological (agromet) sites nationwide as part of the government’s sustained initiatives for the agriculture and fisheries sector to better adapt to climate change.
Agriculture Secretary Bernie G. Fondevilla said the three-year project is covered by a memorandum of agreement between the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) and the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (DOST-PAGASA).
Fondevilla said the project, which will cost about P175 million, will be funded through the United States International Agency for Development’s PL 480 program. It includes the installation of the 10 AWS, the server, transmission and other equipment and the training of the staff that will man the stations.
“The 84 automatic weather stations that would be installed under the project will complement the existing six AWS that were financed and installed by the Asian Disaster Reduction Center,” Fondevilla said. “The existing AWS will also be upgraded to conform with the PAGASA server.”
Fondevilla said this is the second time in which the BSWM and PAG-ASA have entered into such an agreement. The first time was in the 1970s.
According to Fondevilla, the AWS and agromet sites will serve as early warning systems that would help farmers and fisherfolk prepare for adverse weather patterns triggered by climate change.
Besides BSWM and PAGASA, the DA’s regional field units or RFUs, the National Agricultural and Fishery Council, agricultural state colleges and universities, the local government units and the National Disaster Coordinating Council will also be involved in the project’s implementation.
BSWM Director Vince Tejada said that “to maximize the extent of their effectiveness and efficiency, the AWS will be located in strategic and upland agricultural areas.”
Each of these stations will have one climatic data observer/encoder and one alternate that will be trained on the operation of the instruments and the upkeep of the stations, Tejada explained. Tejada said that while the PAGASA generally handles the task of monitoring weather patterns, their stations are not able to saturate the country, hence, the need to supplement the agro-meteorological stations to service the agricultural sector.
“Agro-meteorological data and information are critical in crop production,” Tejada said. “Among other location-specific conditions, climate data are vital factors in the identification of suitable crops as well as in developing and planning of cropping patterns to optimize agricultural production.”
The sites for the AWS and existing agromet stations will cover the Cordillera Administrative Region, the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western, Central and Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Central Mindanao , CARAGA, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, he said. –(The Philippine Star)