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Govt joins hands with IBM to provide real time weather to farmers

The government has signed a pact with IT major IBM to provide weather forecast and soil moisture information at farm and village level using Artificial Intelligence and high-tech weather technology.

, ET Bureau|
Jul 04, 2019, 05.34 PM IST
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The use of information and communication technology (ICT) applications are crucial in smallholder farming. The spread of mobile phones in rural areas has already impacted the way the small and marginal farmers get access to information about soil health, weather and prices.
NEW DELHI: The government is focused on providing farmers the real time access to data related to weather conditions, expected rainfall, input and output prices to help improve agricultural productivity and farmer incomes.

It has also come up with an integrated online market - eNAM - for farmers for discovering remunerative prices for their produce through transparent competitive online bidding on 585 wholesale regulated markets. Since the cost of data harnessing and building infrastructure exceeds the income generated through this system, it is unlikely that private sector would come up with such a market interface.

“We have more than 1.64 crore farmers and 1.2 lakh traders on board since the launch of eNAM in 2016. By June-mid this year, transactions having total volume of over 25.6 million tonnes with a trade value of Rs 70,097 crore have been done for 150 agri commodities,” said a senior agriculture department official.

For providing real time weather data, the government has signed a pact with IT major IBM to provide weather forecast and soil moisture information at farm and village level using Artificial Intelligence and high-tech weather technology.

“We are bringing digital technology in farm sector to empower our farmers with real time information, which can help them to take decisions regarding water and crop management for better productivity and enhanced income,” said agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

This easy availability of data projections, in effect, drives agricultural markets across the U.S. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) releases regular forecasts for prices of various agricultural commodities that are used worldwide. The projections identify major forces and uncertainties affecting future agricultural markets, prospects for long-term global economic growth, agricultural production, consumption, and trade; and U.S. exports of major farm commodities and future price movements. The projections can also be used to analyse impacts of alternative policy scenarios.

“It’s a data age. We need data for future projections and policy framing. Unless we have correct data and information, we will not be able to be analyse. Government needs to devise a proper mechanism for this like that of US. We can’t expect private players to do this as it is not intended to an individual or a firm. It has large societal benefits which the private player can’t monetise to their benefit,” said P K Joshi, fellow, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

The use of information and communication technology (ICT) applications are crucial in smallholder farming. The spread of mobile phones in rural areas has already impacted the way the small and marginal farmers get access to information about soil health, weather and prices.

“In the context of poor infrastructure, adoption of ICT in agriculture will promote market access, facilitate financial inclusion and contribute significantly to early warning signals that are critical for the development of smallholder community. Technology can play a critical role in bridging the information gaps that prevail in agricultural markets,” said Jaishankar Mishra, Director, Agriculture Research and Development Institute.

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