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If we make good use of technology, farmers like me can increase or double our farm income, said Madhuri Nalawade who was among the farmers who had gathered to attend the National Farmers’ Day organised by International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad.
The young farmer and village head of Kaheri in Satara district, Maharashtra, Nalawade further added, “Technologies such as TV, internet and mobile phones can get us timely information on sowing and other best farming practices. WhatsApp, for example, is one of the best means to connect and share information about farming, I have been using it for some time.” She is one of the youngest female village heads in India.
“We need to learn from you, as you are the master of your fields, you know the ground level issues of agriculture, and you will set the research agenda for research organisations like ICRISAT, said Professor Chandra Madramootoo, Governing Board Chair, ICRISAT, while addressing over 2,000 farmers from across India.
“Over the last 50 years, as a result of the research done by ICRISAT and its partner institutions, Universities and research centers of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the production of cereals in India has tripled to 300,000 million tonnes,” said Professor Madramootoo.
The event, which coincided with ICRISAT’s Governing Board meeting, was one of the rare opportunities for Board members who are from different countries, to interact with farmers and learn from them ways to double their income in the next five years.
ICRISAT Director General David Bergvinson said on the occasion, “We are here to exchange ideas for demand-driven agricultural research and see how we can use technology to not just increase crop productivity, but also profitability.”
The National Farmers’ Day saw representation from seven Indian states: Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Karnataka and Gujarat. The farmers were given tours of demo fields of various varieties of crops including millets, pigeonpea and sorghum as well as shown different watershed and other agricultural practices that could help increase their incomes.
In his address to the farmers, Deputy Speaker of Karnataka Legislative Assembly Shivashankar Reddy said, “Research that is being done in organisations like ICRISAT needs to be practically translated onto the farmers’ fields. Farmers will benefit when it is fully translated and research organisations and the Government need to make efforts to help farmers prosper.”
Highlighting the role of digital agricultural tools such as drones, Nalawade said, “In some hilly areas of Maharashtra, farmers face a lot of crop loss, as it gets damaged by wild animals. If we have technologies like drones in place, farmers can monitor the movement of wild animals in their fields and alert wildlife authorities — this could prevent a lot of crop loss hence improving their incomes.”