There’s a whole lot of myths around agriculture in India. Dispelling these myths is pivotal in reshaping the notions that prevent effective management of supply chain in agriculture.
It is only after the fact is distinguished from fiction that improved agriculture production can become viable. One such misconception is that farmers don’t want to switch from traditional agriculture practices to modern techniques.
While it’s normally believed that farmers, with their skewed perception of new-age agricultural practice and techniques, will choose to stick to traditional methods of crop production, it is not the case. And it’s time we move away from this long-standing misconception.
As part of a virtual training programme, many farmers are learning about modern tools that provide information on soil variability, moisture and nutrient levels, rainfall variability, and timing of key operations.The government is also aiming at the penetration of software solutions and upgrading telecommunication infrastructure in the deeper pockets of India for bridging the gap between farmers and other stakeholders.
I got the opportunity to visit a remote village in Haryana as part of my first field trip at FarmGuide where I spoke to farmers about issues that they face on a daily basis in making farming sustainable and profitable for themselves. They opened up about their deepest fears like they had been waiting forever for someone to listen. And so I did.
Now there are three things that I am absolutely certain about:
1. Innovation intrigues farmers as much as it excites other people.
2. They are more than willing to embrace modern techniques as long as it improves farm economics and reduces farm risks
3. They might even have recommendations on how to make technology accessible and affordable for them.
All you need to do to overcome this myth is interaction with farmers. As I’m saying this only after speaking to a fair number of farmers about challenges in raising agriculture productivity, and ways in which they want to be supported.
When asked if he would be appreciative of new-age farming methods, Ram Mohan, a farmer from Kherla village in Gurgaon district of Haryana, says “I am always looking for ways to be more efficient in farm operations. If technology promises better access to good quality inputs, connectivity with the market and reduction in post-harvest losses, why not?”
“We see mobiles, computers and satellites make other people’s life easier. We are immensely hopeful that they can work wonders for us too” he adds.
Moving on from agriculture being a source of livelihood, the farming community in India wants to be updated with the most recent and updated technology to turn farming into a profitable business that helps them improve their lives.
And they are voicing it.
Kishan Kumar, a 42-year-old farmer from Haryana, hopelessly reveals that he has never had his crops insured.
He says he knows nothing about government’s schemes and policies on agricultural insurance. He says even if he finds out about them, he has no reason to confide in them.
Boasting of highest literacy rate compared to Haryana, Kherla is a village where farmers find out about the crop insurance schemes from newspapers that their kids read out to them. But do they have the money to invest in such schemes? Do they not need to be assured that if they do, their produce will be protected in extreme weather events?
“A farmers life is torn between feeding his family for the day and trying not to default on his debt. We don’t save much but we still seek to get our crops insured, provided we are better informed.” laments Kumar.
The farmer, who with his meager financial capacity is ready to go that extra mile, at least needs to know that the scheme will benefit him and not just the entities in the sector.He needs to be told that he will not be abandoned in a crop loss situation.
He needs to be assured that he will receive timely insurance compensation for his claim. And that the crop cutting experiments will be carried out on time to ensure that the claims are sent to insurance companies before it’s too late.Because he is sick of getting embroiled in the blame game.
He is sick of the reasoning. He is sick of doing the math for things he doesn’t understand. And, as surprising as it may sound, a farmer wants to understand.In spite of everything, he wants to be educated about his farm and its capabilities. Let’s not dampen that spirit.
Let’s join our hands in bolstering the decision-making of farmers by educating them about the ways in which they can be more productive and less vulnerable.
Farmers are in constant need of reliable information that allows them to make farm level agronomic decisions and adopt best practices against extreme weather events that have adverse impacts on food production.
“You cannot understand how important it is for a farmer to have effective weather information. If we get advance warning on rainfall, maximum and minimum temperature, wind direction and speed, relative humidity and cloudiness; we can reduce losses and be more productive” says Ram Chand, another farmer in the area.
The one thing that farmer finds himself incapable of protecting his crop against is the wrath of bad weather. The increasing global weather variability has increased crop loss risks, making it difficult for farmers to take the dreaded plunge of improving agriculture production, both in quality and quantity.
Rendered helpless by the growing uncertainty of weather, a farmer has no option but to hope for favorable weather as his crops traverse different stages of the crop cycle. This coupled with farmers’ unawareness about the modern agricultural technologies and recommendations, leaves little or no room for ensuring sustainable and economically viable agriculture systems.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
The management of weather-related agricultural risks like drought, erosion, flooding, desertification and land degradation has become imperative due to the climate change. Many panels on climate change have also pointed out the importance of improved weather advisories in combating the multiple climate risks for agriculture.
With access to crop-specific tips and localised weather information, farmers can make decisions that ensure efficient use of natural resources and bring about significant changes in output that India currently produces and the way it produces it.
Not only can farmers anticipate and plan pesticide application, irrigation scheduling, disease and pest outbreak but also make informed decisions on weather-based agricultural activities such as sowing, transplantation of crops, fertilizer application etc.
So, let’s encourage this change. Let’s bring information services to farmers so they don’t feel deprived of the essentials.
As a nation battling with food security risks, we can’t just sit and wait for farmers to improve agricultural production without ensuring agronomic insights that bolster decision-making by farmers. Let us make sure that farmer knows about each and every scheme launched by the government and the ways in which they can be availed without facing much discomfort.
Join FarmGuide as it extends these information services to farmers.
FarmGuide – a data-driven tech start-up – through its digitised system of automated web and mobile platforms, is capturing real-time data for supremely reliable databases. These databases can be analysed and used at the field level for risk analysis, market distribution and effective policy formation in agriculture. Not only do their software solutions assist the government in data-driven policymaking, they are also helping stakeholders in agriculture maximise their coverage and penetration, encouraging and strengthening farmers to increase efficiency across their operations.
After examining efficiency issues related to asymmetric information, FarmGuide is en route to providing field-level agronomic information in the form of information services to farmers that enables them to take better decisions about everything from selecting the right variety of seed to the price that they should be selling their produce for. The farm-level information and insights are aimed at helping farmers increase yield, drive farm efficiency and improve their lives.
About Shumali Sharma
An avid reader and a ruthless traveler, Shumali studied journalism and like to write about things that are making a difference. She is working as a content developer for FarmGuide.
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