We need to learn from you, as you are the master of your fields, you know the ground level issues of agriculture, and you will set the research agenda for organizations like ICRISAT,” said Professor Chandra Madramootoo, Governing Board Chair, ICRISAT, while addressing over 2,000 farmers from across India.
“If we make good use of technology, farmers like me can increase or double our farm income,” said Ms Madhuri Nalawade who was among the farmers attending the National Farmers’ Day organized by ICRISAT at its headquarters on 21 September.
“Technologies such as TV, internet and mobile phones can get us timely information on sowing and other best farming practices. WhatsApp for example is one of the best means to connect and share information about farming, I have been using it for some time,” said the young, dynamic farmer and village head of Kanheri village, Satara, Maharashtra, India. Ms Nalawade is one of the youngest female village heads in India.
The event, which coincided with ICRISAT’s Governing Board meeting, was one opportunity for Board members, to interact with farmers and understand how the farmers feel they can double their income in the next five years.
Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, said, “We are here to exchange ideas for demand-driven agricultural research and see how we can use technology to not just increase crop productivity, but also profitability.”
“Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi has called for doubling of farm income in the next five years; this day is our first step towards realizing the vision of the Prime Minister,” added Dr Bergvinson.
The National Farmers’ Day saw representation from seven Indian states: Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Karnataka and Gujarat. The farmers were given tours of demo fields planted with various varieties of crops including millets, pigeonpea and sorghum as well as shown different watershed and other agricultural practices that could help increase their incomes.
In his address to the farmers, Hon’ble Deputy Speaker of Karnataka Legislative Assembly Mr Shivashankar Reddy said, “Research that is being done in organizations like ICRISAT needs to be practically translated onto the farmers’ fields. Farmers will benefit when it is fully translated and research organizations and the Government need to make efforts to help farmers prosper. I think in that direction ICRISAT is doing great work.”
Highlighting the role of digital agricultural tools such as drones, Ms Nalawade said, “In some hilly areas of Maharashtra, farmers face a lot of crop loss, as it gets damaged by wild animals. If we have technologies like drones in place, farmers can monitor the movement of wild animals in the crop fields and alert wildlife authorities — this could prevent a lot of crop loss hence improving their incomes.”
The event was organized by ICRISAT Development Center (IDC) led by Dr Suhas P Wani, Research Program Director, Asia Program and Theme Leader, IDC.