12) ICRISAT Develops Early Warning System for Groundnut Farmers (August 2001)

An automatic solar-powered instrument to warn farmers when to spray against leaf spot diseases of groundnut has been developed by ICRISAT and its national partners from India.

Early and late leaf spot diseases cause up to 50% yield losses in groundnut worldwide. Because smallholder farmers are often caught unawares by attacks on their crops, they spray fungicides when it is too late. Sometimes even if the attacks are not severe, some farmers spray too much fungicide, incurring heavy expenses.

The unique feature of this instrument, called the Leaf Wetness Counter, is that it actually determines whether it is necessary to apply fungicides during leaf spot attacks, taking away the pain of decision-making for farmers. And because of its accurate monitoring, farmers don't need to pump excessive amounts of harmful fungicides into the environment.

The counter, made from locally available material, costs about Rs. 11 000. “One counter is enough to provide information to all the farmers of an entire village,” said Mr. Kanaka Reddy, ICRISAT Scientific Officer, who has been closely involved with the project. The counter has been successfully tested in several Indian villages in collaboration with the Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University and two non-governmental organizations – Agriculture Man Ecology (AME) and Mysore Resettlement and Development Agency (MYRADA).

CRISAT has sold about 30 pieces of the instrument to several Indian Agricultural Universities and AME, among others.

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