The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) should address barriers to access and utilization of its weather and climate information.
This, after various studies conducted by state think tank PIDS and its partner-institutions found that farmers in provinces such as Benguet face difficulties in using weather and climate information provided by the state weather bureau.
The studies showed that farmers encounter difficulties in obtaining raw climate data from PAGASA’s website.
The lack of access to online channels, including social media and mobile applications, where the bulk of the agency’s data are available, was also identified as a gap.
Issues such as the farmers’ lack of working capital, other resources, and know-how, and the absence of tailored weather and climate forecast were also reported.
In a webinar recently organized by PIDS to present the studies’ findings, Thelma Cinco, assistant weather services chief of PAGASA’s Impact Assessment and Applications Section, noted the agency’s shortcomings in the studies conducted by PIDS.
“They provide significant opportunities for PAGASA to realize the areas that need improvement, especially in information dissemination to stakeholders,” Cinco said.
Cinco said PAGASA plans to enhance its radio-based information dissemination to improve the accessibility of its products and services. Data showed that radio is the major source of weather information among households in the provinces.
Another is to conduct regular information education campaigns and training for agricultural extension workers and farmers under the KlimAgricultura, organized in partnership with the Agricultural Training Institute of the Department of Agriculture.
The state weather bureau also plans to establish climate field schools and develop systematic and consistent dissemination of warning protocols.
In terms of utilization, Cinco said PAGASA will provide climate projections and hazard assessments that will help local government units formulate their local climate change action plans and comprehensive land use plans.
It will also develop plans for climate threats and establish a communication mechanism between farmers and extension workers. She also noted the importance of institutional linkages with civil society groups and international organizations to reach farmers.
Cinco added that the agency is moving toward impact-based forecasting, which focuses “not on what the weather will be, but what the weather will do”.
Finally, she emphasized that it is “necessary to conduct consistent assessment and reassessment of the impact of the improved dissemination to farming communities”.