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India To Promote Demand-Based Tele Agriculture Advisories For Farmers

Image credit: Press Information Bureau

To aid farmers’ productivity by providing location-specific demand-based tele-agriculture advisories, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the Digital India Corporation (DIC), and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

According to a press release, the objective of the MoU is to integrate DIC’s existing Interactive Information Dissemination System (IIDS) platform with ICAR’s proposed Kisan Sarathi programme. Its implementation through the ICAR network will reach a large number of farmers across the country. ICAR and DIC have agreed to collaborate to develop and deploy ICT platforms to establish and operate multimedia and multi-way advisory and communication system to support various local-level agricultural activities. To start with, the IIDS would be deployed at ICAR, which is a push and pull-based system wherein agriculture-related information can be pulled from the farmers using mobile phones.

Also, through the programme, farmers have the ability to receive individual needs-based information for only the services they have subscribed for. The experts at the back end will have access to the farmers’ database while responding to their queries. In this manner, the experts will be able to understand the problems raised by farmers or field problems in a better way (KYF – Know Your Farmer) and expeditiously provide appropriate personalised solutions. Currently, the IIDS platform has been deployed in the Northeastern states, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. It will be extended to cover the country under the MoU with ICAR.

The DIC will provide the entire technical solution with support for development, hosting, and managing the ICT platform. The ICAR will manage and monitor the entire operations through their extension services network in the form of KrishiVigyanKendras (KVKs), various domain-specific research Institutes, and a network of agricultural universities in a phased manner.

Earlier in March, the government announced it was in the process of creating for the first time a “digital agri-stack”, a hi-tech national farmers’ database that could give the government and agribusinesses unprecedented insights into the rural economy. The digital repository will aid precise targeting of subsidies, services, and policies, according to a news report. Under the programme, each farmer will get what is being called an FID, or a farmers’ ID, linked to land records to uniquely identify them. India has 140 million operational farmland holdings.

The government is also developing a unified farmer service platform that will help digitise agricultural service delivery by the public and private sectors. The data of 4.3 crores (43 million) farmers linked with land records have already been verified and the database will be unveiled shortly, an official had claimed. The database will connect seemingly simple data points: the number of occupational farmers who avail of subsidies, how much land they own, what they grow, and which agro-climatic zones they fall in. These data points will be triangulated by software that will throw up a far more complex but illuminating picture of the rural and agricultural economy, the official said. The next step would be to create a model to monetise the data.

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