Dr. Arun Bhagat and Er. Madhav Gholkar
According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021, recently published in German-Watch, India ranks seventh among 180 countries in the world’s most affected by climate change. At the same time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already stated in 2014 that global warming will increase the risk of extreme events (droughts, floods, hailstorms and storms). The Climate Risk Index (CRI) shows the level of vulnerability associated with exposure to extreme weather events. It also warns to be prepared for more frequent and/ or more serious incidents in the future. Although it is very complicated how extreme weather events occur, but in the coming period, we need to mitigate the risk of extreme weather events and be prepared for these types of events.
Today, the world is facing a major crisis of climate change, which has a detrimental effect on many areas. In the last 30 years, the damage caused by climate change in India has doubled and is increasing day by day. The damage to agriculture is the biggest, and its adverse effects needs to be considered very seriously. Because agriculture has always been a basic need of our past, present and future. All human life and their culture thrive only when the farming community is well developed. In India many organisations are working together to make agriculture more profitable. Agriculture accounts for about 17-18% of India’s GDP; therefore agriculture and allied industries are the mainstays of the country’s power. But it is very important to have the support of powerful tools and up-to-date technology, as well as good connectivity and mobility. Various agricultural practices like good farming practices, disease and pest management, fertiliser management, water management and market prices of agricultural commodities help the farmers to make good profits.
Therefore, it is important for farmers to have all such information at their doorsteps or in-hand. Even though all this information is publicly available today through internet, television, magazines and other means, however, it is challenging for farmers to get that information. A mobile or smartphone application is one such platform through which farmers can avail all such information.
Smartphones have revolutionised connectivity, and mobile apps are being used to transfer agricultural information to farmers. According to global statistics, India is the third-largest user of smartphones after China and the United States, with an estimated 180-190 million people currently using smartphones. In the last decade, information on agricultural technology was being imparted mainly by rural level workers, agricultural workers, agricultural extension officers, scientists, agricultural science centres (KVKs) and agricultural universities. After the advent of the internet, most of the information was web-based. But because of the cost of computer equipment, it has only reached a limited number of users. Currently mobile based applications (Apps) are on the way to replace computer services at a lower cost. Although the use of smartphones is increasing rapidly in agricultural development, it is used sparingly. In fact, there are different factors affecting agricultural development, the problems are very different, Farming needs to be done smarter to overcome these issues. Although we are already aware of climate change, there are limited discussions on climate change agriculture aimed at increasing agricultural productivity and generating income to meet current and future demands. Smartphones have benefited people in developing countries in large numbers and to a large extent. In India also Mobile Apps are making a difference in agriculture. More than 50% of the people are working in the agricultural sector and it has become a need of the hour to connect them with the latest technology to make agribusiness more productive, profitable and reputable. The technology needs to be easy, fast and cheap to use and Mobile Apps is a technology that can be used directly in agricultural growth. Although this means of disseminating information is still in its infancy, its benefits will certainly be seen in the near future. This requires better smartphones, multilingual platforms, affordable internet packs, regular training and raising awareness among farmers in information dissemination strategies.
There are different types of Mobile Apps (applications), which are used in various departments including agriculture. Today there are thousands of mobile apps in the field of agriculture. The usefulness of any Mobile App depends on the information, content and purpose of creating the App. Many Mobile Apps are only useful for specific information related to crop cultivation and production. It only provides information on a good package of practices, markets, and weather. Some Mobile Apps provide information from sowing to marketing. Mathematical (calculation based) Mobile Apps provide information on the amount of water, fertilisers and pesticides, including agricultural resources and products. Some Mobile Apps are for educational use only, while some Mobile Apps identify and diagnose crop problems. There are many opportunities in India to use smartphones as part of agricultural reform. Indian farmers need to use it for easy access to agricultural information. Generally farmers need information on the latest varieties of crops, conditions of small to large changes in climate, techniques of crop production and improved agricultural practices for their production. Mobile Apps can play an important role in providing such information to farmers in any climate zone. The agricultural information obtained through Mobile Apps interacts with agricultural productivity in various ways and can help in land, labour, livestock, capital and management decisions. Productivity can be improved with such agricultural related, reliable and useful information and knowledge. In today’s fast growing digital ecosystem, mobile Apps are a boon for the advancement of the agricultural sector.
Mobile (FarmPrecise) App of Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR)
“FarmPrecise” is a Mobile App that provides information on up-to-date farming techniques and methods used.It also provides real-time weather data, 5-day weather forecast, early storm warning, fertiliser requirement for crops, its planning and application, information to farmers on irrigation needs and their application, nutrient management, integrated pest and disease management, and market prices of different crops in nearby markets. Thus FarmPrecise Mobile App is trying to give a complete package of agricultural advice to farmers. Currently, “FarmPrecise” Android Mobile App has been developed in English, Hindi, Marathi and Telugu languages and can be downloaded from the “Google Play Store”. This Mobile App has a simple interface and an additional tab connects the farmer directly to an expert at WOTR where the technical queries are answered.. WOTR has been working to accelerate agricultural development and alleviate the suffering of farmers through the FarmPrecise app. Presently we are assessing the usefulness of the Farm Precise App by collecting the feedbacks of more than 1300 farmers from different parts of Maharashtra and Telangana. The feedback takes into account the farmers responses about the interface, effectiveness of the app. A number of qualitative and quantitative feedbacks will help us make the required improvements to the app. “
In the next blog we would be sharing about the use of FarmPrecise mobile app and selected feedback from the farmers who have used this mobile app. It will give an overview about the benefits of using the mobile application, the difficulties encountered, changes expected in the agricultural advice, and the invaluable improvements suggested. WOTR may be the only ones making such improvements to the mobile app. It is believed that these reforms will definitely benefit the farmers significantly