By Sarkaritel October 21, 2020 12:12

By Nitin JugranBahuguna

JALNA, MAHARASHTRA: A Unique digital kiosk service has been launched in Jalna district of Maharashtra to help farmers make smart and informed decisions in cotton cultivation to counter the severe climate- related vagaries that the district has been facing in the current decade.

The kiosk service for the digitized web and android – based Decision Support System (DSS) known as ‘Cotton Doctor’ offers customized data for each and every farmer and is backed up by cutting – edge technology.

FarmerLaxmanBapuraoBobade of Shivani village has been cultivating cotton for the last 35 years on his two-acre plot.  “Nowadays, there are several issues in cotton farming such as sucking pest, erratic rainfall and low profit, so there is no sustainability in cotton production,” says the 60-year-old farmer. “I don’t have a smart phone so I am dependent on weather forecasts and agro advisories being sent via SMS which are valid for only three days,” he points out.

The kiosk helped the farmer to see the weather forecast for the next seven days as well as receive alerts of abnormal weather conditions which enabled him to plan accordingly. “My grandson received training on how to operate the kiosk and subsequently taught me so that now I am able to take informed decisions based on the information I access,” he states proudly.

The kiosk was launched recently by WWF – India along with its partners KrishiVigyan Kendra (KVK), Jalna, an autonomous body under the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), Keshavraj Agro Producer Company (KAPCL), a Farmers’ Producer Company and Weather Risk Management Services Ltd (WRMS), an agritech start- up.

WWF – India, with technical support from WRMS, developed the DSS for providing real time information on cotton production to farmers of the district. The DSS gives forecasts on weather, information on pest and disease management, crop health and soil moisture status and irrigation and nutrient advisories. Around 15,000 farmers are currently registered and availing of the ‘Cotton Doctor’ services. The main objective of the kiosk is to enable farmers without smart phones to access the DSS services.

Extremes of weather variation have an adverse impact on agriculture production, particularly in weather – vulnerable zones, affecting hydrological cycle, reproductive growth of crops and pest abnormities in India. In the past decade, the country has witnessed rapid changes and unpredictability in weather, making farmers more vulnerable. Thus, it is necessary to equip farmers with advisories that would enable them to cope up with weather variabilities and take informed decisions on how to manage their crops in ever – changing weather, says Sumit Roy, Associate Director of WWF’s Sustainable Agriculture Programme (SAP), which is implementing the project.

Farmers are provided with live and real time information as well as the option to interact with experts of KVK located elsewhere.  GajananSarangdharGhule, 30, of Wakhar village has been growing cotton on his 3.5 acre field under irrigated conditions. “I got training on the ‘Cotton Doctor’ Jalna app in my village by KVK staff. I got information about various features of the app and I found it very useful for me as I can see  details of my farm like crop condition, soil moisture level and Mandi prices,”he notes.

Observing that crucial details about different cotton practices such as fertilizer application and timely use of pesticides are included in the app., Gajanan says he also receives need-based agro advisories. “I followed the advisories on the recommended pesticide to be sprayed to counter  thrips (sucking pest) and got good results,’ he claims.

Apart from automated advisories, interactive features have been upgraded in the app. where farmers can communicate with the experts by sharing videos and pictures of such advisories that the system may not be able to generate.

By Sarkaritel October 21, 2020 12:12