Re-prioritizing climate services for agriculture: Insights from Bangladesh
Considerable progress has been made in establishing climate service capabilities over the last few decades, but the gap between the resulting services and national needs remains large. Using climate services for agriculture in Bangladesh as a case study example, we highlight mismatches between local needs on the one hand, and international initiatives that have focused largely on prediction on the other, and we make suggestions for addressing such mismatches in similar settings. To achieve greater benefit at the national level, there should be a stronger focus on addressing important preliminaries for building services. These preliminaries include the identification of priorities, the definition of responsibilities and expectations, the development of climate services skills, and the construction of a high-quality and easily usable national climate record. Once appropriate institutional, human resources and data infrastructure are in place, the implementation of a climate monitoring and watch system would form a more logical basis for initial climate service implementation than attempting to promote sub-seasonal to seasonal climate forecasting, especially when and where the inherent predictability is limited at best. When and where forecasting at these scales is viable, efforts should focus on defining and predicting high-impact events important for decision making, rather than on simple seasonal aggregates that often correlate poorly with outcomes. Some such forecasts may be more skillful than the 3- to 4-month seasonal aggregates that have become the internationally adopted standard. By establishing a firm foundation for climate services within National Meteorological Services, there is a greater chance that individual climate service development initiatives will be sustainable after their respective project lifetimes.