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Cellphone now becomes a helpful tool for farmers

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Cellphone now becomes a helpful tool for farmers

  • The project covers 3,000 farmers in Gulbarga, Raichur and Dharwad districts
  • Information is sent to farmers through voice mail on their mobile phones

GULBARGA, January 10, 2012

The joint initiative of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK) in Gulbarga, Raichur and Dharwad districts on bridging the knowledge gap between agricultural scientists and farmers and bringing the expertise of the scientists to the doorsteps of the farmer through voice mails is fast catching the imagination of the farmers.

Special Project Scientist N.T. Yaduraju of the ICRISAT, who is part of the knowledge sharing and innovation initiative in ICRISAT, and Raju Teggalli and V. Kantharaju, principal investigators in the KVK in Gulbarga, told The Hindu that the project has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for farmers to manage their crops during the crucial period of cultivation.

On a pilot basis, the ICRISAT and KVK decided to use the technology to update the weather report, the status of the crop in different regions, information about pests and the measures to be taken to protect crops and other details through voice mail system using mobile networks.

This is the simplest technology worked out by the IIT Kanpur which disseminates the information through a server to mobile phones and this has worked wonders in helping farmers save their crops by timely advice on protective measures, said Mr. Kantharaju and Mr. Teggalli.

Mr. Yaduraju said initially, the information was sent to mobile phones of farmers through SMS, but one of the major drawbacks of SMS was that not all the mobiles had the facility to receive the messages in the local language and majority of the farmers could not read the messages sent in their mobile phones.

The software was further upgraded to enable it to use the voice mail system.

Four days a week

Mr. Kantharaju said that the messages are sent through voice mail in the local dialectabout the condition of the crop and other details four days a week. "We provide details from the day one of the sowing to the different stages of the growth of the plant, how to tackle the diseases, pest attacks and remedial measures and the harvesting technology and marketing by informing the prevailing rates of the produce in the wholesale market," he said.

Mr. Yaduraju said that the project covers 3,000 farmers in three districts and the feedback from the farmers was very good and the mobile tracking system on whether the farmers regularly hear the messages had shown that 95 to 98 per cent of the farmers heard the messages regularly and about 10 per cent came back to the KVK seeking further information and clarifications.

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