Automated Agro-meteorological Data Improve Agricultural Production in Afghanistan

Story Highlights
  • Agro-meteorological stations across Afghanistan are providing farmers vital information on climatic and soil conditions, enabling them to grow and irrigate their crops more effectively.
  • Five newly installed stations, supported by On-Farm Water Management Project (OFWMP) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock, are providing more reliable, timely information through an automated system.
  • OFWMP, which works to improve agricultural productivity by enhancing the efficiency of water use, is supported by a $25 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund.

KABUL CITY – Wahidullah Yousofi, head of the Agro-meteorological Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL), is busy reviewing and saving information that he has obtained from agro-meteorological stations around the country. “We try to record weather information in the different provinces and inform farmers about weather conditions and the irrigation needs for their crops,” he says.

MAIL’s 108 agro-meteorological stations operate in all 34 provinces of the country to provide information essential for determining the irrigation needs of each province’s crops in the different seasons. “Agro-meteorological stations are installed in many countries around the world to enhance crops and improve production,” says Yousofi.

“The agro-meteorological stations provide us with 12 distinct parameters,” he explains. “If we are properly informed about each of these parameters, they can lead to significant improvements in the crops.” The 12 parameters, which include solar radiation, sunshine hours, air temperature, dew point, atmospheric pressure, soil moisture, and rainfall, are among the most important for agriculture. The climatic data contribute to determining the exact water requirement of specific crops, helping farmers to irrigate more efficiently and effectively. This could significantly contribute to improving agricultural conditions in Afghanistan.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) initially installed 46 agro-meteorological stations for MAIL in 2004. Then gradually until 2006, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) took charge of the agro-meteorological stations from FAO and increased their number to 103.

Five more stations were installed by MAIL in October 2015, with support from the On-Farm Water Management Project (OFWMP). The five automated agro-meteorological stations were installed under contract with an American company in Kabul, Herat, Nangarhar, Bamyan, and Samangan Provinces.

With a $25 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), OFWMP aims to support on-farm water management investments in five regions—Kabul, Baghlan, Herat, Nangarhar, and Balkh Provinces, covering a total of 19,000 hectares. OFWMP works to improve agricultural productivity in project areas by enhancing the efficiency of water use.

In total, only 9 of the 108 agro-meteorological stations are operated automatically. In the manually operated stations, an expert is needed to obtain information from the system and send it to MAIL headquarters in Kabul. It is not problem-free though. “Misreading information by the person in charge is a common problem,” says Yousofi. Moreover, the manual process in comparison to the automated one takes a longer time to relay information.

The automated stations are connected to satellites and automatically relay the recorded information through Internet to the administrator’s website on an hourly basis. Any user with an account on the website can access the updated information.


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The newly installed automated agro-meteorological stations provide more reliable, timely updates as they relay information to MAIL’s website hourly, allowing the ministry’s staff across the country to access and use the updated information through their accounts on the website.

Rumi Consultancy / World Bank


” The agro-meteorological data help to determine the water requirements of different crops growing in the province, which will directly impact crop growth and production, and the economic situation of the farmer.  “

Muhammad Aslam Dana

Director, Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Samangan Province


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The automated agro-meteorological stations also greatly benefit agricultural research in Afghanistan.

Rumi Consultancy / World Bank


Quicker data updates

The newly installed automated agro-meteorological stations provide more reliable, timely updates as they relay information to MAIL’s website hourly, allowing the ministry’s staff across the country to access and use the updated information through their accounts on the website. The stations are powered by solar energy panels, using energy-saving batteries, and operate around the clock. The power system of the stations is able to operate for a week under cloudy weather conditions. In case of a station’s disconnection from Internet or the satellites, its recorded information can be obtained manually.

MAIL shares the information it receives with farmers through the relevant Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL) offices. The DAIL directors in the five provinces are appreciative of the installation of the new weather stations as reliable agro-climatic data play an important role in the productivity of the agricultural sector. Engineer Muhammad Aslam Dana, DAIL director of Samangan Province, says: “The agro-meteorological data will help to determine the water requirements of different crops growing in the province, which will directly impact crop growth and production, and the economic situation of the farmer.”

The agro-meteorological data will be used in the different agriculture departments of DAIL/Samangan, says Dana. Each DAIL director has appointed an agronomist, who also is responsible for downloading the data from the station to share with farmers and relevant agriculture departments.

Direct impact on crops and production

The agro-climatic data, in helping to determining the exact water requirement of crops in a specific area, enable farmers to better plan their cropping pattern. For instance, using the information obtained from the stations, farmers would be guided on the degree of soil moisture and could decide when their crops would need irrigation, or data on the forecasted timing and amount of impending rain could help determine what measures farmers should take.

Farmers Hameedullah and Muhammad Tahir, from Ghondan and Palos Posh villages of Balkh district, have 50 Jerib (10 hectares) and 100 Jerib of agricultural land, respectively. They keep themselves updated on the weather through radio and television. They plan their agricultural activities according to weather updates, which have direct impact on the growth of their crops and agricultural production. “The weather updates are really helpful to us throughout the year for different agricultural practices such as sowing, fertilizing, using herbicides, irrigation, and harvesting of crops,” says Muhammad Tahir.

The data from the agro-meteorological stations not only benefit individual farmers but also institutions in the country. Says Wahidullah Yousofi: “The automated agro-meteorological stations also greatly benefit agricultural research in Afghanistan. Further, the information provided by these stations can be used by other offices including the environmental protection office, urban development office, and many more.”

Source: The World Bank. Date: April 12, 2016

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2016/04/12/agro-meteorological-data-improve-agricultural-production-in-afghanistan