Maharashtra farmers take e-route for better results

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Nashik (Maharashtra), Feb 15 (IANS) Conventional farming techniques, coupled with use of technology and a bit of awareness, seem to have yielded wonderful results in three villages of Maharashtra’s Nashik district, with farmers using the power of tech to get high yields.

Thanks to Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd (HCCB), the farmers in the Khaprale, Chandrapur and Jamgaon villages have taken the e-agriculture route to ensure the profit of their work is maximum, using all possible techniques, including Agro Met Devices, for their farming.

The farmers, most of whom are not very educated, say the newly-installed Agro Met Devices have become an inseparable part of their lives as they mostly give them correct weather information through messages on their mobile phones.

Surprisingly, the devices, installed at the centre of the villages, were brilliantly maintained by the villagers. The devices also get them customised information about their crops, helping them prepare in advance for the times and conditions ahead.

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“This is a very useful thing for us. We get to know the conditions predicted for the day and week ahead and then plan how to carry out our work. Now that we get to know about the weather conditions well in advance, it helps us to be better prepared for it,” Sunil Tawde, 27, one of the villagers at Chandrapur, said.

He said the farmers also get to know about the market value of their crops through the messages. “They then decide whether or not they’ll sell their products on that particular day.”

An Automated Weather Station (AWS) has been installed at Chandrapur, equidistant from Khaprale and Jamgaon villages.

The data available on windspeed, direction, humidity, rainfall and temperature is processed with assistance from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to develop crop advisories that are sent to farmers through SMS.

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“The objective of the project is to enhance the agricultural productivity through watershed treatment, irrigation development and weather-specific advisories.

“It aims to address issues arising from water scarcity for agriculture, high soil erosion, land degradation, lack of knowledge on agricultural production technology and migration, through sustainable improvement in agricultural production techniques and optimum utilisation of natural resources,” Kalyan Ranjan, associate vice president, public affairs and communication of the company, told this visiting IANS correspondent here.

“This project is an example of public-private-community partnership involving Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, NGO Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) and the beneficiary communities,” he added.

Among the steps taken to strengthen the farming potential in the villages include construction and repair of farm bunds, making minor drainage line structures in the upper catchment areas, repair of percolation tanks and promotion of weather-responsive e-agriculure.

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Interestingly, over the past few years, Maharashtra has been topping the list of states when it comes to farmers committing suicide.

According to the state government, as many as 2,016 farmers committed suicide till the end of September, 2015. There were 1,949 farmers’ suicides in 2014.

(Prashant Kumar travelled to Maharashtra on an invitation of Coca Cola. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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