Farmer uptake of agro-meteorological advisories steadily growing in India
There has been a doubling of farmers who have volunteered to use the Intelligent Agricultural Systems Advisory Tool (iSAT) weather advisory, while the Meghdoot app, providing crop-specific advisories, has scaled up from 150 districts in 2019 to nearly all of India (718 districts). Advisories are now provided in nine Indian languages and English. ICRISAT worked with a range of partners to develop and test these technologies and with farmers to adopt and use the information for on-farm decisions.
iSAT has been providing concise and accurate phone-based advisories to farmers in Anantapur and Kurnool districts of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh since 2016. During the last two years, the number of farmers who have volunteered to receive advisories and participate in pre-season and post-season analysis of the tool’s efficiency and use has more than doubled, going up from 400 in 2017 to over 1,700 by the end of 2019. Additionally, around 20 chickpea farmers from Kurnool joined 30 registered farmer-users of iSAT during a visit to ICRISAT in January this year, to learn more about the tool and to register for its use.
Mr Ramesh Reddy, a farmer from Panyam village of Kurnool who visited to learn more about iSAT, said, “Last year we gathered weather information from the registered farmers of Hussainapuram all through the season. This year, we are keen to get the weather advisories in Panyam and have asked the iSAT team to include us.”
“We have been spreading the word about the tool’s benefits among other farmers,” said C Nazeer Ahmed of Hussainapuram village in Kurnool, where around 200 farmers get the messages.
Farmers like Mr Ahmed, who invest to lease out land to farm, in addition to farming their smallholding, are taking a significant financial risk when compared to farmers who only farm their own lands. iSAT has not only been helping farmers make on-farm decisions related to sowing or harvest, but it is also helping farmers like Mr Ahmed decide whether they should invest at all in leasing land to farm for higher produce and profits.
“Timely delivery of actionable climate and weather information not only supports the farmer in managing climate risks, but it also helps in scaling up farming and maximizing profits if farmers know a good season lies ahead,” said Dr Ramaraj, Associate Scientist, ICRISAT.
iSAT inspired the development of Meghdoot, an app that was built by ICRISAT jointly with the India Meteorological Department, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Meghdoot provides crop-specific advisories by aggregating information from agro-met field units across India. Over the last five years, around 5,000 farmers in India have used ICT-enabled climate information services provided by ICRISAT and its partners for planning and management of their farms. Not only that, new ways are constantly being explored to put the tool to better use.
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