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IT-based agri information system

In a move to provide weather-based decisions in agriculture, the Central Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) along with the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad, proposes to initiate a pilot programme for IT-based agricultural information and dissemination system. The proposed project is expected to provide real-time data collection and advisories, weather-based forewarning of crop pests and diseases.

YS Ramakrishna, Director of CRIDA said, ‘‘Agricultural operations require adequate contingency planning. Hence we are planning a coordinated project with the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural Institute (ANGRAU), IIIT, National Council for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) and IMD. Using the expertise of each of the centres, our agrometeorological programme aims to know the influence of weather on dynamics of pests and diseases, climatic changes and its impact on different agro-ecological regions and identification of the crops based on GIS applications.

‘‘We propose to collect data from 25 Agromet centres, under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) present across the country and 83 centres of NCMRWF and link them to the Virtual Academy for Semi-Arid Tropics (VASAT) of ICRISAT, krishi channels and Crop Weather Watch group. The first pilot project is expected to come up soon at Mehboobnagar district in Andhra Pradesh state, ’’ Dr Ramakrishna said.

The information needs of the farmer include some general information like weather, crop demand-supply information, market prices, credit-related information; pre-sowing information like best practices in soil and tillage, choice of crops, source of seed materials, time to sowing; crop production and protection measures from pests, adverse weather conditions and post-harvest practices like time to harvest, storage facilities, current pricing and offtake at local markets.

Interestingly, the benefit ratio for the farmers after using these agromet services is surprising. On an average, a farmer is able to save about Rs 4,000-10,000 as the awareness on weather, crop protection, sowing and harvest time are well-calculated, he said.