Real-time weather data helping sugarcane farmers: All details inside

Sugarcane growers and other farmers engaged in farming activities in the vicinity of sugar mills of Hardoi, Lakhimpur and Shahjahanpur districts of Uttar Pradesh have been able to grow good sugarcane crops despite the deficiency in the average rainfall they received in their areas during the monsoon period, this year. They attribute this success to the information that they have been receiving on their mobiles during the last one year. Through weekly advisories, in their language and real-time hourly data on their mobiles, farmers of the area have also been able to increase water use efficiency as well as reduced the groundwater extraction that they otherwise be doing to irrigate their fields.

This has happened with the help of the Smart Agri Project that Solidaridad is implementing in collaboration with Vodafone Idea Foundation (A CSR wing of Vodafone Idea Limited) in selected districts of central Uttar Pradesh that are prone to receive less than 550 mm of yearly rain fall. To address the issue of limited rainfall and water needed for irrigation, 32 devices (Weather Stations) have been installed in Hardoi, Lakhimpur and Shahjahanpur districts to inform farmers about weather conditions in their areas. Each device has been able to cover an area of around 10 kilometres of aerial radius. With the help of these devices 165,000 farmers living in the vicinity of 8 sugar mills, are getting real-time data about rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind velocity and seven days forecasts as well, on these parameters.

Dr. Alok Pandey, Senior Programme Manager (Sustainable Sugarcane) of Solidaridad Asia said, “Technology in farming has evolved but yet not reached a large number of farmers. To ensure maximum farmers avail its benefit, Solidaridad along with partner organisations working with growers and trying to install high-tech technical devices on their farms.”

Since sugarcane is one of the important cash crops and a large number of sugar mills operating in these districts, farmers are very much willing to grow this crop. Policy of the Government of India to increase the blending of Ethanol in fossil fuel has supported sugar mills to install or increase their crushing capacities and for that, they are also trying to promote farmers to grow more and more sugarcane. However, to produce and supply the required amount of sugarcane farmers need a huge amount of water as sugarcane is considered as a water guzzler. Now with the help of high-tech devices, farmers are well informed about the weather conditions and planning their agriculture activities, including irrigation, accordingly.

Another important benefit that farmers are getting from these devices is related to pest and disease management. With the help of these devices, farmers have also been able to save the resources that they otherwise using, unnecessarily, on pest and disease management.

Very recently a similar device has installed at the research station of the Uttar Pradesh Council of Sugarcane Research in Shahjahanpur. This will now support the scientists also to enhance their quality of research and training and to do various experimentations on the ground.

Solidaridad is also planning to install similar weather station in other research stations in Mandya and Belgaum districts of Karnataka as farmers of this state are also facing the poor impact of climate change.



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