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Indian Agriculture Ministry to geo-tag agricultural assets through collaboration with space agency

The Indian government has initiated a project for geo-tagging of agricultural assets. The Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana or National Agriculture Development Scheme (RKVY; under the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer Welfare) signed a MoU with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).

RKVY supports the States and Territories of India in drawing up plans for increased public investment in Agriculture. NRSC, which is under the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is responsible for remote sensing satellite data acquisition and processing, data dissemination, aerial remote sensing and decision support for disaster management. The agency is involved in mapping of resources (Postal, GAIL, Forest etc) and monitoring of assets created under various schemes of Ministry of water Resources, Ministry of rural development etc.

The objective is to create a national index of the assets to understand and systemize them and enable their more efficient utilisation. Over 150,000 assets have been created/ developed under this scheme in agriculture, horticulture, livestock, fisheries and dairy sectors. ·  

Benefits

States have been using funds under RKVY for creation of infrastructure/assets in agriculture and allied sectors, such as soil testing labs, pesticide testing labs, bio fertiliser setting units, custom hiring centres, vaccine production units, veterinary diagnosis labs, dispensaries, milk collection centres, fish production units, godowns, cold storage, shade nets and so on.

Monitoring of these assets and activities through geo-tagging will introduce greater transparency. It will help the states and the central government to understand flow of funds. By inventorising, geo-tagging will help in avoiding duplication and eliminating redundancies and harmonise the different schemes of the ministry. In future, the location of the infrastructure created and distances from each other could also be utilised for arriving at distribution of assets and optimum number of that particular asset required in a district or state. It would facilitate planning of assets for the future, and help in informing farmers about available facilities through the Internet and mobile phones.    

Process

Geo-tagging will be done using the Bhuvan platform of NRSC, that allows users to explore a 2D/3D representation of the surface of the Earth. It also acts as a platform for hosting government data.

NRSC has developed a detailed procedure for the same to prepare inventory of assets created during the past 10 years (2007-2017) under RKVY through Geotagging. The institute has developed an app and imparting training to the state officials.The trained officers in the field will take the photographs (with details of latitude, longitude, year of creation etc.) of the assets and upload it onto the Bhuvan-RKVY platform of NRSC.

NRSC has already created a training manual and imparted training in 17 states, regarding use of the app. It will continue to provide technical backstopping till the Geotagging exercise is completed. Pilots have been initiated in 4 states of Orissa, Maharashtra, Bihar and Karnataka.

Other geo-tagging initiatives

In the budget speech for financial year 2017-18, the Finance Minister spoke about an initiative to geo-tag all MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act; the act aims to guarantee the 'right to work’ and enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work) assets and place them in public domain. This would enable tracking to ensure that work is being done and help in tackling the utility of assets created through the public works. 

The Ministry of Rural Development and the Department of Land Resources have also started geo-tagging for monitoring of activities in the states. The Postal department has geotagged post offices using the Bhuvan Platform from NRSC.

Read the press releases here and here.

Featured image: Rajarshi MITRA/ Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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