ICRISAT, Microsoft develop sowing app for Andhra farmers

Hyderabad, June 9 (IANS) ICRISAT in partnership with Microsoft has developed a new sowing application for farmers combined with a personalised village advisory dashboard for Andhra Pradesh.

These applications are expected to help farmers cope with the climate change and bring radical improvements for small-holder farmers in the state.

The sowing app is to help farmers achieve optimal harvests by advising on the best time to sow crops depending on weather conditions, soil and other indicators.

This has been made possible through a partnership between the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Microsoft and the Andhra Pradesh government.

“Bringing a lot of scattered data together and developing an analytical tool that is comprehensive and gives accurate predictions to the farmers, is urgently needed. We are excited to work with Microsoft to enhance incomes and improve the lives of small holder farmers, and this is going to boost our digital agriculture initiative in a big way,” said David Bergvinson, Director General of ICRISAT.

ICRISAT has adopted Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite including Machine Learning and Power BI or Business Intelligence, to empower farmers and government officials with technology, and promote digital farming practices in the state.

The Sowing App and Personalized Village Advisory Dashboard are developed to provide powerful cloud-based predictive analytics to empower farmers with crucial information and insights to help reduce crop failures and increase yield, in turn, reducing stress and generating better income,” said Anil Bhansali, Managing Director of Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt. Ltd.

The sowing application utilizes powerful artificial intelligence to interface with weather forecasting models provided by US-based aWhere Inc. and extensive data including rainfall over the last 45 years as well as 10 years of groundnut sowing progress data for Kurnool district.

This data is then downscaled to build predictability and guide farmers to pick the ideal sowing week. When combined with other data collected from the Rythu Kosam project, it can create rich datasets that can be processed to build predictive models for the farmers, said ICRISAT in a statement.

Similarly, the personalized village advisory dashboard provides an instant overview across several environmental factors that determine a healthy crop yield. In the pilot that has been recently launched, information will be sent to farmers about the sowing date via SMS in Telugu.

Data collected manually from farms in 13 districts of the state by ICRISAT field officers for Rythu Kosam has been uploaded to Microsoft’s Azure Cloud. Using powerful Business Intelligence (BI) tools, this dashboard provides important insights around soil health, fertilizer recommendations, and seven days’ weather forecast derived from the world’s best available weather observations systems and global forecast models.

This data is then downscaled for the highest possible accuracy at the village level, to transform how small holder farmers tackle climate change to drive effective decision-making.

ICRISAT is providing technical backstopping to Rythu Kosam, which is aimed at positioning the state among the best three performing states by 2022.



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