Skymet, agri experts allay farmers’ scepticism on weather forecasts 

Prathamesh Patil
Thursday, 17 May 2018

Farmers are urged to depend only on IMD forecasts. It alleges that Skymet gives wrong predictions to benefit seed companies as the farmer purchases and sows seeds based on forecasts and faces losses when they go wrong. 

Pune:  A message circulating on WhatsApp in farmers’ groups demonstrates skepticism among farmers about forecasts by private weather service providers like Skymet, a Noida-based company.

In the message, farmers are urged not to depend on Skymet forecasts as they have failed in the past. Farmers are urged to depend only on India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasts. It alleges that Skymet gives wrong predictions to benefit seed companies as the farmer purchases and sows seeds based on forecasts and faces losses when they go wrong. 

“Skymet is a recently emerging service provider, but as far as predictions go, it has similar accuracy to that of the IMD,” said Ramesh Jadhav, an agriculture and agri market expert, adding, “The IMD is operated by the Central government and Skymet recently become a partner in Mahavedh, a weather service that it operates with the Maharashtra government. Both services attempt short-term predictions with better accuracy, but both face limitations when it comes to macro trends.”

“The problem is that the phenomenon of monsoon in itself is a complex process. It is difficult to build weather models which can accurately predict the behaviour of the monsoon. Thus, rarely has anyone been able to predict it with minute accuracy,” Jadhav said.

“We at Skymet have more than 2,000 automated weather stations which give us real time data. With a team of more than 1,000 personnel and 25 weather scientists, we are able to make up to 80 pc accurate predictions,” said Manoj Palawat, the Vice President for Meteorology and Sky Weather Data at Skymet, adding, “We maintain global standards and have long-term data with us.”

Palawat said their performance is as accurate as possible. “We have our website and call centre services. We have been predicting rains, which did take place according to our forecasts. Anyone who has a doubt can compare our forecast for their regions with the actual happenings. We are sure they will find most of our predictions have come true.”

“It is difficult to provide accurate weather predictions. The IMD operates weather stations on a large scale too but there is no way we can say it fares any better than private weather services. But farmers could opt for the IMD forecasts, as here, at least they have some accountability in their hands.”

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