Digital guide to aid farmers troubled by climate change induced risks

Early heatwaves this year have had an adverse impact on a variety of major crops such as wheat, peppermint, and mango. With an aim to assist and counsel the distressed farmers, a mobile phone application has been launched. It seeks to help farmers by providing the technical know-how which is expected to help them make informed decisions. Read on to know more.

Digital guide to aid farmers troubled by climate change induced risks

Farm Precise app provides farmers a weather-based dynamic decision support system. All photos: By arrangement

An increase in the uncertainty of weather as an adverse implication of the changing climate has spelled doom for farmers who depend on the crucial crop cycle. In a bid to prevent or minimise the losses of the cultivators, a Maharashtra-based non-profit has come up with a mobile phone application — Farm Precise — which provides farmers a weather-based 'decision support system'.

"The basic objective of this app [application] is to provide agro-meteorological information to farmers which considers weather conditions, weather forecast, and generates dynamic advisory along with normal practices farmers follow," Ajay Shelke, deputy general manager of the Pune-based Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR) told Gaon Connection.

Reportage by Gaon Connection has consistently documented how a sudden rise in temperature in March and early heatwaves this year have reduced the production of major crops such as wheat, mango, peppermint, flowers, and even vegetables. The damaging easterly winds have increased expenses for the cultivators and the risk of crop damage also looms large amid increasing pest attack.

"What crop they are growing, what should be the sowing date, how to reduce input cost of farmers, increase productivity, and improve and maintain soil health, considering all this we have developed this app," Shelke added. The technical support for the initiative was provided by the California-based tech giant Qualcomm Inc. as part of their 'Wireless Reach Programme'.

The Farm precise app is connected to over 50,000 farmers across Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana.

How does the mobile app help farmers?

The Farm Precise mobile app helps farmers make appropriate decisions on the following key parameters:

Weather: Helps plan farm activities based on real time weather and five days forecast from Indian Meteorological Department and Open Weather Services. The forecast is available based on the farmer's location and informs them about humidity, rain, temperature, wind direction and speed. The application also suggests proper spraying time in a day depending upon the wind and rain.

Crop advisory: Helps reduce input expenses and get high yield following location specific and timely interventions including cultural practices, integrated pest management, nutrient and irrigation advisories.

This mobile app helps farmers plan farm activities based on real time weather and five days forecast.

Fertiliser calculator: Helps calculate precise fertiliser requirement for crop by entering soil test results. Because of lack of knowledge farmers use fertilisers and pesticides which are not needed for crop, which increases input costs of farmers, the advisories received from the app suggest various combinations based on optimum quantity along with the estimated cost of fertiliser and pesticide required for their crop.

Community forum: Helps address query and get solutions from agronomists and experts. If there are any pest issues, farmers can upload photos of their crop and agriculture experts assist them through the app.

Farm diary: Helps note all the inputs and corresponding expenditure in the farm, and analyse all expenditure and plan for the next season.

The app is available in five languages: English, Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Odia.

"Farmers have now started adopting these advisory. During kharif season, when rainfall is crucial for farmers, the usage of this app increases," said Pune-based Shelke. The application also helps check prices in nearby markets and prevents farmers from selling crops at low prices.

Launched in 2019, the Farm Precise app is connected to over 50,000 farmers across Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana and is available in five languages: English, Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Odia.

The application also helps check prices in nearby markets and prevents farmers from selling crops at low prices.

The mobile application provides advisory for 26 major crops including paddy, cotton, sorghum, pigeon pea, wheat, chickpea, pomegranate, brinjal, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage.

"There are various similar apps but they are focussed on to provide agricultural food services and sell products to farmers. Our focus is to provide a decision support system to the farmers so that they can make appropriate decisions. Also, other apps charge farmers for such services, ours is free of cost," said Shelke.

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