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Economic impacts

Significance of weather and climate for agriculture is described in the publication "Survey of the Economic Impacts of Agrometeorological Activities in Developing Countries", Sari Kuisma, 1995, FMI.

Three examples:

Citrus disease in Belize

Belize is a mainly agricultural country and the citrus crop is the second in importance. However, some pests and diseases may endanger successful crop production. One of these diseases is Premature Fruitdrop Disease which in some years can cause a loss of more than 50% of citrus yield in some regions. This fungus disease develops when the temperature is low, the weather is cloudy or lightly rainy and the leaves of the citrus plant are wet. The national meteorological service has started to produce specific weather forecasts so that properly timed fungicide applications can be made.

lf the yearly production of citrus fruit is considered to be more than 3 million boxes and the price per box about USD 4, the value of the additional yield can be as much as USD 6 million. The yearly budget of the local national meteorological service in Belize was about USD 300 000 in 1992. The savings made through this single service will thus cover generously the annual total costs of the national meteorological service. The annual value of the additional yield can also be compared with the total yearly budget of the meteorological cooperation project financed by Finland. The share of Belize was about USD 200 000 per year and thus the annual benefits from these citrus disease forecasts can be more than ten times as much as these costs.

Fishing in Sierra Leone

There are two storm seasons in Sierra Leone, one in March and the other in October. During these months fishing has been avoided. Climatic analysis for both of these months indicates a high probability of occurrence of storms for seven days, absence of storms for seven days and uncertainty in the forecasts for the remaining 16 days. The economic benefit of being able to fish during an additional period of 14 days each year would amount to approximately USD 400 000 whereas the cost of preparing and issuing these forecasts would be less than USD 10 000.

Groundnut storage in Gambia

In many countries groundnuts are stored in heaps in the open air. This kind of storage is favoured because it permits continuos ventilation with the relatively dry air. In Gambia the groundnut harvest might wait for the government buying agent up to three months. Of course, all this time the groundnut harvest is vulnerable to rain. Short-range rainfall forecasts would facilitate the protection of stored groundnuts. The farmers could be warned against impeding rain, and they could cover the crop or move it inside.

The price of the wetted groundnut harvest is estimated to be 60% of the price of successfully stored harvest. The respective numerical values are USD 90 and 150 per ton and the average yearly crop is 100 000 tons. The value of one single good forecast for impeding rain, even if only 10% of the harvest could be saved, is then 600 000 USD. On the other hand, the average annual budget for the National Agrometeorological Service in Gambia from 1982 to 1984 was about USD 180 000. The benefits of this single service could finance annual agrometeorological activities about three times.

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