Digitizing Cotton Cultivation
Extremes of weather variation have an adverse impact on cotton production, particularly in weather - vulnerable zones, affecting hydrological cycle, reproductive growth of crops and pest abnormities in India. In the past decade, the country has witnessed rapid changes and unpredictability in weather, making farmers more vulnerable. To equip farmers with advisories that would enable them to cope up with weather variabilities and take informed decisions on how to manage their crops in ever - changing weather, WWF – India has developed a digitized web and android – based Decision Support System (DSS) known as ‘Cotton Doctor’ which offers customized data for every farmer and is backed up by cutting-edge technology.
A kiosk providing the DSS services was launched in Jalna district of Maharashtra jointly by WWF - India along with its partners Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Jalna, an autonomous body under the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), Keshavraj Agro Producer Company (KAPCL), a Farmers’ Producer Company and Weather Risk Management Services Ltd (WRMS), an agritech start- up. The DSS gives forecasts on weather, information on pest and disease management, crop health and soil moisture status and irrigation and nutrient advisories. Around 15,000 farmers are currently registered and availing of the ‘Cotton Doctor’ services. The main objective of the kiosk is to enable farmers without smart phones to access the DSS services.
Farmer Laxman Bapurao Bobade of Shivani village has been cultivating cotton for the last 35 years on his two-acre plot. “Nowadays, there are several issues in cotton farming such as sucking pest, erratic rainfall and low profit, so there is no sustainability in cotton production,” says the 60-year-old farmer. Not owning a smart phone, the kiosk helped Bobade to see the weather forecast for the next seven days as well as receive alerts of abnormal weather conditions which enabled him to plan accordingly.