Keeping Banana Farmers on Track with Weather Data
Bananas are a key crop for farmers in the Caribbean basin of Costa Rica, which has 42,916 hectares of banana plantations. Favourable weather and soil conditions usually allow for intensive production for export purposes. However, during the year there are considerable variations in climate that can cause a significant impact on production.
In 2005, the National Banana Corporation (CORBANA) decided to create the BANACLIMA Program, an automated weather station network that distributes weather information to all banana producers and crop managers in real-time, allowing continuous monitoring of weather conditions in the major banana producing areas in the country. The real-time information is put on CORBANA’s website (www.corbana.co.cr), allowing both producers and farm managers to use it. Weather forecasting is also available via e-mail and SMS. This includes alerts and warnings for extreme weather events, as well as a weekly and monthly agro-climatic bulletin.
“It is a good tool for all us farmers, it really helps the banana growing sector, as a support system that helps us make decisions that will prevent (the weather) from affecting us badly,” comments one BANACLIMA user.
A key benefit of having this weather information available is being able to decide how to manage input use, such as fertilizers and crop protection products, on a farm. Given that the efficiency of these products is highly dependent on the climate conditions, farmers are able to maximize the economic benefit of using these products, whilst minimizing impact on the environment, if they have weather forecasting information available to them.
The availability of weather information will also help the banana industry to better prepare for natural disasters related to climate change such as floods or droughts.
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