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Weather forecasters brighten outlook for agriculture

Government officials gathered in Vientiane last week for a two-day course on collecting agro-meteorological data for modelling purposes as part of the Laos Climate Services for Agriculture (LaCSA) system.
The course is enabling government officials working within the FAO project “Strengthening Agro-climatic Monitoring and Information Systems” to continue the long journey to become experts in agro-climatology and agro-meteorology.

Officials at the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment organised the training session in Vientiane on May 21-22 to teach staff at local weather stations about the LaCSA system.
The demo LaCSA system is available at: with a new user-friendly interface that can be easily visualised on smartphones.
The training included participants from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and staff from the provinces of Attapeu, Xekong, Savannakhet and Khammuan.
The session was conducted in line with social distancing rules with large meetings being avoided.
Staff in all the provinces have received training over the past five months, coming from 22 weather stations.
Under the LaCSA system, weather forecasters are learning how to collect data relevant to rice, maize and cassava crops.
Station staff need to record the start and end date of the crop cycle, and whether any pests or diseases are present.
Staff are provided with computers and internet connection, and will later receive tablets they can use to record data in the field, using a bar code that will define the exact location and information about each field.
The goal is to assess approximately 220 farmers’ fields in the vicinity of the weather stations during the year. Laos is leading a national-level, valuable experiment that is pioneering data collection in South East Asia.
The LaCSA system provides rainfall and temperature seasonal forecasts as well as crop calendars and information about pests and diseases to farmers at near real-time (once a week) during the crop season.
After learning about the LaCSA, local technical staff will learn about agro-meteorology and about pest and disease modelling used in agro-meteorology systems. Finally, the information will be broadcast over village loudspeakers by Lao National Radio.
The training ensures that staff at provincial and district natural resources and environment offices will become experts in using LaCSA and agro-meteorology and can be used as valuable points of contact by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry experts anywhere in the country.
The objective of the FAO’s “Strengthening Agro-climatic Monitoring and Information Systems” project is to change government offices’ capacities in their daily involvement in agro-meteorology, involve experts in Laos’ development and ensure farmers’ food security. 

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update May 26, 2020)

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