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Skopje coming to grips with climate change impact on agriculture

Much awaited weather data will soon be available to thousands of farmers in The former Yugoslav Republic Macedonia – one of the most arid countries in Europe. Installation of new hydro-meteorology equipment, and a two-day workshop in Skopje, are two milestones occurring this week in an FAO project aimed at making Macedonian agriculture less vulnerable to climate change.

In a landlocked country, where agriculture has a strong share in the economy and employs thousands, advance information on precipitation and other weather factors is essential for a productive season.

The combination of arid climate and soils with low water-holding capacity limits crop yields. At the same time, changing precipitation patterns are reducing the amount of water available for agriculture.

Small-scale farmers are responsible for about 87 percent of the country’s total agricultural production value. Helping them transition to more climate change-resilient systems is viewed as a priority.

They need timely weather information to optimize their interventions, and maintain production of wheat, maize, oilseeds, peppers, beans and other vegetables.

The new FAO project also aims to strengthen the institutional framework, update the knowledge of public officials dealing with the sector, and provide hydro-meteorological equipment to fill the data gap.

The first weather station was installed in Strumica, and two more will follow soon in Gradsko and Kochani. The weather stations will provide the country’s Hydrometeorological Service with information on precipitation, wind and other weather conditions important for agricultural production.

“The project will not only provide automatic weather stations but also support the digitization of the data,” said Reuben Sessa, FAO climate change and energy coordinator for Europe and Central Asia, and project leader.

Weather data for the past 20 years is now being digitized and made available online, Sessa said. Combined with new data, this will enable the analysis of climatic trends, and improve forecasts and agro-meteorological information for farmers.

This week’s workshop is being attended by 15-20 officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Water Economy. Participants will look at the institutional and policy framework from the perspective of how the country’s agriculture is coping with climate change.

They will learn about measuring the climate outcomes of certain policy decisions, and how to devise environmental indicators for agricultural policy analysis. The curriculum also covers identification of major climate-induced diseases of fruits.

19 September, Skopje, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

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