FarmerZone project ready to move beyond pilot stage, slated to cover 20 crops

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FarmerZone, an ambitious project of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) at the Ministry of Science and Technology meant to create a cloud-based open data source advisory platform for farmers, is ready to move beyond the pilot stage.

IIT Mandi is spearheading the pilot project and one of the key supervisors of the programme told indoasiancommodities.com that the initial phases of the massive project have been successfully undertaken. 

Dr. Shyam K. Masakapalli

“We have done the large-scale pilots involving 5,000 potato farmers in Himachal, UP and Punjab and results have been satisfactory. The Farmer Zone app is now active linking the potato farmers with a plethora of relevant advisory information. The project is heading in the direction of incorporating more crops,” said Dr. Shyam K. Masakapalli, Associate Professor, School of Basic Sciences, IIT Mandi.

The pilot project, which was initiated in 2018 by the DBT, currently has collaborating partners like IIT Mandi, Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) and IORA Ecological Solutions.

The larger open-source platform as envisaged by the DBT has the major support of GODAN (Global Open Data for Agriculture & Nutrition), an international body based in Montreal that is working on a similar global scale tool for food security.

“DBT will soon evaluate the results of the pilot project to decide the future course of action and its pan-India expansion. They would ultimately like to cover 20 crops representing different segments of the agri-value chain – food grains, fruits and vegetables, medicinal crops, etc. I think edible oils would be the next crop to be included in the programme,” Maskapalli said.  

Project FarmerZone entails creation of a collective open-source cloud based platform which will comprise a huge advisory data base useful for the farmers.

It will provide the information related with weather, soil condition, water and seed availability and market linkages. The single platform will collect data from multiple sources and further curate, analyse and distribute them as per the needs of the farmers of different crops.

It will eventually also have market linkages advising the farmers on the multi-channel sales proposition of his crop. 

“Once a farmer becomes the registered user of the app, he will have the leeway to use a plethora of advisory data including weather conditions, soil and  possible disease control methods he will have to deploy. These data will be collected from the leading research institutes involved with different crops who will work as partners in this open source platform,” Maskapalli said, adding that IIT Mandi has received weather forecast inputs from the Indian Meteorological Department. 

Ritwik Sinha chased trucks in his childhood, without realising logistics would become a deep love for him. Inherently a television man, he now spends long hours interviewing key people for our very popular YouTube channel. Podcasts are next on his list. In his free time, Ritwik is either looking for a warehouse filled with commodities or hitching a ride on a cold truck – all of which yields great stories!

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