As part of a series on the integration of digital technologies into agricultural programs, ICRISAT’s work on digital agriculture was featured as a case study in a USAID publication. The case study examines different approaches to adoption and how digital tools impact organizational culture, operations, and programs.
The study on ICRISAT traces the organization’s journey in use of digital tools which began in 2009 and went on to become a critical component of the organization’s mission in 2014 with the launch of Digital Agriculture research theme. This theme is now weaving digital tools across the organization’s research and implementation work which include the following initiatives.
The Sowing app and the Intelligent Agricultural Systems Advisory Tool (ISAT) deliver targeted and timely SMS messages to farmers about sowing and other farm management practices. The Sowing app is a partnership between ICRISAT, Microsoft India, and the Government of Andhra Pradesh. It is currently being scaled up in 13 districts. The ISAT pilot is in its second year and focuses on 700 groundnut farmers practicing rainfed agriculture in sandy soils with low rainfall.
The iHub is an incubator program at ICRISAT for agricultural technology start-ups. There are currently twelve of them including Plantix – a free mobile crop advisory app that successfully identifies common plant diseases in India and Kalgudi – a free online platform which creates feedback loops between farmers and researchers.
The LeasyScan is a phenotyping platform that automatically measures important characteristics related to leaf surface area and water stress of plants. It uses eight laser triangulation scanners and scales to create a database of 3D plant images and weights for up to 4,800 plants multiple times a day. The HarvestMaster records highly accurate measurements of grain weight and moisture characteristics for development of new varieties.
Besides the case study publication, do take a look at ICRISAT’s work on digital agriculture.