India develops more accurate crop production forecasting system –

India develops more accurate crop production forecasting system –

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New Delhi, India, 4 September 2006: Amidst a controversy over whether the country has landed into a wheat crisis this year because of lower production or low inventory, the Centre has decided to make its estimates for evaluating crop output more scientific using remote sensing, agro meteorology, GIS and land observations.

Launched by the Ministry of Agriculture, FASAL is a programme for Forecasting Agriculture output using Space, Agro-Meteorology and Land-based observations for better accuracy in crop production. Initially the programme will cover two commodities — wheat and rice. Later it will be extended to all major crops. Crop output forecasts will be made one month before harvest, taking into account drought, floods, frost and such weather situations.

For two seasons, wheat output has suffered on account of vagaries of weather, particularly shrivelling of the grain during high temperatures in parts of north India. The FASAL project will take into account rain, heat and humidity influences on crop. It seeks to strengthen the current capabilities of early and in-season crop estimation and forecasting capabilities through econometric and weather-based techniques.

Even today the crop-cutting data is co-related with remote sensing data but it has rarely synchronised, leaving scope for inaccuracies. Now the Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad, has developed this crop production forecasting system, FASAL, using remote sensing, weather and field data for better accuracy.

The project will be implemented by the National Crop Forecasting Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture over six years at an estimated cost of Rs. 96 crore( USD 21 M)