Indian postmen might soon have another task up their sleeve other than delivering Indian's their precious letters/mails. The country’s public weather forecaster, India Meteorological Department (IMD), is contemplating of giving Indian postmen an additional responsibility of a weatherman.

The IMD has decided to pilot a scheme to take benefit of the massive network that India Post has cultivated over the years and use it to collect and deliver important weather information to the country's farmers.

To start with, a postman will be provided with a template form when he goes to a village. The form will have some basic questions, like land usage, cropping pattern of the village, etc. The postman would be required to fill the form and get the phone numbers of some of the farmers from the village.

IMD's objective with the scheme is very simple, they intend to reach to as many farmers as possible. Since India's postal department has over 1,54,800 post offices across the country, with almost 90% of them in rural areas, they proved to be a perfect fit for the weather department. After reaching the country's hinterlands, the IMD plans to take the help of the Indian postmen to collect information that will help the department in providing farmers with custom-made weather and crop advisories.

AgriMet, IMD’s agriculture division, is gearing up to run the pilot programme in five villages across Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Gujarat. While the places have been decided, the cost of the project is still being deliberated upon.

Despite of being the third-largest economy in the whole of Asia, a large majority of farmers in India even now fully depend on the rains to make their decisions on sowing and harvesting. In fact, less than 50 per cent of India's total farmland is irrigated. This means, an inaccurate weather forecast ends up having a catastrophic effect on the country's entire economic cycle as the country's farmers have to suffer huge losses. Seeing India go through two consecutive drought years, the weather department decided to take some serious steps and bail the farmers, the agriculture sector and the whole of country out of this crisis.

The AgriMet is also contemplating on installing screens at the village post offices so as to display information on weather and crops directly to the farmers.

It is no secret that when it comes to monsoon predictions, the IMD has had a shaky past. For instance, it completely missed out on predicting the 2009 drought, which was the worst drought that the nation faced in the last four decades. Further, the department's forecasts have often diverged from the ones of Skymet, which is India’s biggest private forecaster.

In order to restore people's faith in the department and do away with all the discrepancies, the government has decided to spend about $60 million on a supercomputer that will help in increasing the department's precision in forecasting.

India Post's extensive network across the country isn't helping another industry for the very first time. It has received a payments bank license from the RBI, all thanks to its deep reach into the country’s hinterlands. Further, the department has also partnered with leading online sellers in the country such as Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal for deliveries.

Since, the Indian postmen will now also be doubling-up as weathermen, the responsibility of ensuring timely deliveries now becomes important than ever.

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