Odisha with a geographical area of 1, 55,707 sq.km, cultivated area of 61.80 lakh hectares and 10 agro climatic zones has a great climatic variability. Drought, flood and cyclone are the recurrent calamities that have bedeviled the economy of the state over decades and centuries. During the last 50 years the state has been affected by natural calamities for 41 years out of which, 19 years had been hit by drought. With enhanced frequency of climate changes and aberrations, the agriculture sector is becoming more and more vulnerable. The periodicity of drought in Odisha is once in five years. The limited coverage of area under irrigation (38%) has further complicated the problems. The effects of drought are manifest in the sharp drop in agricultural production and farm incomes, shrinkage in opportunities for rural employment wide case spread immiseration among farmers, farm labors, rural artisans and small rural businesses. The inimical impacts of drought are also reflected in deteriorating nutrition status, out migration from rural areas and distress among cattle and farm animals. In addition, drought trend to corrode the food security of the nation, decelerate consumption and industrial growth, deflate market sentiments and stymie the overall performance of the economy. Drought in Odisha generally occurs during Kharif season and are harmful mainly to the paddy crops. The districts like Bolangir, Bargarh, Nuapada, Kalahandi and Phulbani comprising 47 blocks have been identified as drought prone area of Odisha.
As per the mandate of Manual for Drought Management 2016, and in order to address the effective drought problems the State Drought monitoring Cell has been set up at Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) with the technology driven approach so as to effectively manage drought.
State Drought Monitoring Cell: The cell is directly responsible to an expert committee comprising decision makers and scientists. An MoU has been signed with Karnataka State Natural Disaster Management Center (KSNDMC), Bengaluru to provide technical assistance for setting up of SDMC. Technical collaboration will also be made with other organizations like Space Application Centre(SAC), Ahemadabad, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, India Meteorological Department(IMD) Pune etc. The functions of the SDMC are broadly on the following five components e.g. 1. Rainfall data recording, 2. Enhanced Weather forecasting infrastructure 3. Information on crop and soil management, 4. Explore areas of IT and GIS for drought forecast and management, 5. Promote and support crop insurance process.
Now the SDMC at OSDMA runs with Agriculture expert, Weather Experts, Data base analyst , Data entry operators and headed by Chief General Manager(Nodal officer). Data on rainfall, agriculture, remote sensing, soil moisture and hydrology at field level would be recorded every week of the year. If necessary, the state will conduct sample survey for ground truthing, the findings of which will be the final basis for judging the intensity of drought as ‘severe’ or ‘moderate’. The proper forecasting of weather, prediction of drought and its effective mitigation have become a challenge both for scientific and administrative community.
Keeping this in view, it is decided to set up large network of a Weather Monitoring System at Grampanchayat and block level proposing to adopt a two pronged strategy for effective programme implementation.
- Establishment of a GIS & IT enabled Drought Monitoring Cell at the State level in OSDMA.
- Setting up of 320 AWS (1 AWS per 150sq.km area) equipped with a. Automatic Rain Gauges, b. Air Temperature Sensors, c. Relative Humidity Sensors, d. Wind Speed Sensors and e. Sunshine hour recorders
- of ARG (one per 25 sq.km excluding the AWS locations).
- Setting up of a 24×7 cell center to meet the farmers’ queries and agro-advisory requirements.
Besides, the data so obtained from the departments like Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment, Revenue & Disaster Management, IMD etc shall also be used by Farmers, research institutions, crop insurance companies etc. The data after proper analysis will be disseminated to the farmers in a usable format so that they can take appropriate decision regarding the farming practices to be adopted in case of aberrant weather condition. The data will also be utilized by the scientific institutions for research activities. The activity will help the state in strengthening the network of weather monitoring system and also devising appropriate drought management mechanism.