About 50,000 farmers in ten districts of Maharashtra are expected to benefit from a pilot project, which will disseminate weather-related inputs using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve land productivity and boost crop output.
It is being launched jointly by the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) and India Meteorological Department (IMD), and is to be financed under the Farmers' Technology Transfer Fund (FTTF).
The project aims at creating awareness, increasing farmers' know how and capacity building for enhanced income through adoption of new technologies, reduction of costs, getting better price for produce and securing technical inputs for crop management, NABARD spokesman Subodh Abhyankar said.
In addition to Pune, the other districts to be covered under the scheme, to be launched on September 3, include Ahmednagar, Washim, Bhandara, Amravati, Jalna, Gadchiroli, Sindhudurg and Hingoli.
"Nearly 50,000 farmers from 500 farmers' clubs promoted by NABARD will be provided weather-related information and crop advisories by way of free SMSes in the pilot initiative," he said.
The three-year plan envisages using ICT tools for providing need-based agro-meteorological advisory services to ryots in the context of local farming and culture, and ensure a two-way communication between agriculture experts and grassroots level communities, Abhyankar maintained.
Under the project, IMD's Agri-Met field units will provide weather and crop-related advisories right from sowing to harvesting operations with technical expertise.
"Weather and climate are some of the biggest risk factors impacting farm performance and management. Extreme weather and climate events such as severe droughts, floods or temperatures often lead to decline in agricultural production, particularly in arid and semi-arid zones," Abhyankar said.
These factors contribute to the vulnerability of individual farmers and rural communities. Implementation of appropriate methods will help farmers to enhance their adaptive capacity with improved planning and better management decisions, he said.