źUndoubtedly weather plays an important role in agricultural production. It has a profound influence on crop growth, development and yields; on the incidence of pests and diseases; on water needs; and on fertiČlizer requirements. Moreover, weather aberrations may cause physical damage to crops and soil erosion. The quality of crop produce during movement from field to storČage and transport to market depends on weather. Bad weather may affect the quality of produce during transport, and the viability and vigour of seeds and planting material during storage.
Rural proverbs abound in rules of thumb for anticipation of local weather and timing of agricultural operaČtions in light of expected weather. Basu (1953) found no scientific basis for anticipation of weather in many of the popular proverbs and folklore. In a recent study, Banerjee et al. (2003) arrived at concluČsions similar to that of Basu (1953). The proverbs and local lore show, however, that farmers have been keen to know in advance the likely weather situaČtions for crop operations from time immemorial.
Agronomic strategies to cope with changing weather are available. For example, delays in the start of crop season can be countered by using short-duration varieties of crops or thicker sowings. Once the crop season starts, however, the resources and technology get committed and the only option left then is to adopt crop-cultural practices to minimize the effects of mid-seasonal hazardous weather phenomena, while relying on advance notice of their occurrence. Thus, medium-range weather forecasts with a validity period that enables farmers to organize and carry out appropriČate cultural operations to cope with, or take advantage of the forecasted weather are clearly useful.
Of course, occurrences of erratic weather are beyond human control. It is possible, however, to adapt to or mitiČgate the effects of adverse weather if a forecast of the expected weather can be obtained in time.
More than ever, agrometeorological services have become essential because of the chal-lenges to many forms of agricultural production posed by increasing climate variability, associated extreme events and climate change. These challenges have repercussions in terms of socio-economic conditions in general, especially in developing countries. Views of 2050 reveal the possibilities and the risks that in a few years or decades should be expected to come in the agricultural sector, along with changes in the water balance, culture conditions and parasites.
Thus for optimal productivity at a given location with the use of minimum resources, α Cli-mate-based strategic agronomic planning is required.╗