Science-led approach for agricultural development in Telangana

The Hans India |   Dec 07,2015 , 09:43 AM IST
   

To improve productivity and profitability of small farmers in the state, the state government and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have joined hands to implement Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-based knowledge sharing platforms and other agricultural innovation initiatives.

 
The partnership will explore areas of collaboration in the field of digital agriculture along agriculture value chain and also explore the possibilities of ICRISAT playing an active role in the ‘T Hub’ (an  incubator launched by the Telangana government). 
 
Access to timely information and knowledge can be a great leveler and help millions of farmers in Telangana to improve their yields, incomes and resilience since they can now make informed choices about good farming practices.
 
The outcome of the collaboration will be to enable the government create new economic opportunities for rural populations through digital agriculture and enable consumers to create direct linkages to farmers.
 
ICRISAT will help the government to map the soil health of four million hectares of agricultural land in the State and enable the government to issue health cards to farmers and transform the State to be the country’s seed bowl. It will develop a time bound plan and strategy to be implemented over the years in order to achieve State’s vision for agriculture.
 
The initiative is aimed to achieving sustainable intensification of agriculture in the State through enhanced water and nutrient use efficiency with increased production and improved incomes of the farmers.  A soil health atlas for the State will be prepared using stratified soil sampling and using GIS techniques. Soil test-based nutrient management recommendations for major crops will be developed for different Agri- Climate sub-regions of the State.
 
To achieve the goal of Seed Bowl of India, the Institute can provide necessary inputs to help strengthen the seed production system in Telangana. It can provide improved high-yielding cultivars of chickpea, groundnut, pigeonpea, pearl millet and sorghum which are the major crops that are being cultivated by majority of smallholder farmers in the State.
 
These crops are integral components of various cropping systems. Hence enhancing the productivity and net income under these crops assumes significance in improving the status of agriculture in Telangana.
 
It also helps in expanding cultivation of pigeonpea hybrids in Telangana State to improve productivity and the large potential of sorghum to contribute to fodder requirement and enable Telangana to become a hub of dairy industry.
 
Pigenopea is a leading Kharif pulse crop of the Telangana State, grown in nearly 3,00,000 ha in Mahabubnagar, Ranga Reddy, Medak, Nalgonda, Adilabad, Warangal and Khammam districts. Thousands of farmers have benefitted with the access to improved seed varieties, training on improved crop production technologies and awareness creation on aspects of crop production technology through different extension methodologies.
 
Sustainable seed system models and seed road maps have been developed in different districts enabling the transformation of farmers to seed entrepreneurs. ICRISAT is the first in the world to develop hybrids in pigeonpea. These hybrids were extensively tested in all the districts of the State with promising results.
 
It is on a mission in Telangana to enhance the cultivation of these hybrids and seed production was taken up in 2013 Kharif and it is expected to cover about 60,000 ha of pigeonpea cultivation area with hybrids and by 2017, aims to bring nearly 200,000 ha under hybrid pigeonpea cultivation in Telangana.
 
Hybrid sorghum is major food and fodder crop in Adilabad, Nizambad, Medak, Ranga Reddy, Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda and Khammam districts of Telangana. Sorghum rotis are popular in all these districts. ICRISAT released various cultivars such as PSV1, PSV16, ASH1, as a result sorghum cultivation is increasing particularly in the ‘Maghi’ belt and in block soils of western Ranga Reddy district in Telangana. Telangana also has the potential to become a hub of dairy industry and sorghum being a dual-purpose crop can contribute to the fodder /forage requirement of the industry. It also is providing technical support on the production of syrup from sweet sorghum.
 
 
ICRISAT also developed a customized low-cost device ‘ GreenPHABLET’  that integrates phone and tablet computer powered by the Green SIM with the features of water resistant, shock-dust and drop-proof and operate in temperatures up to 60 degrees Celsius, including 3G connectivity, a 8 megapixel black camera and a 2 megapixel front camera  , enabling the government to give advisory to farmers of the State. Green SIM project is helping over 40,000 farmers in 171 villages of Telangana to build a resilient food secure future.
 
It provides personalized and generic advisory services on soil health deficiencies, fertilizer and pesticide recommendations, credit and insurance advice, information on availability of quality of agriculture inputs, weather, and market and nutrition dialects.
 
The surge of global warming and more recently the drought witnessed in some parts of the State and calls for immediate steps to mitigate the effects of drought and create a more sustainable future. It has signed a MOA, on sustainable management of water resources and sustainable agriculture development through the establishment of an Agriculture Theme Park at Ramoji Film City.  It aims at developing sites of learning for farmers by sharing the experiences of ICRISAT and providing technical guidance through a multi-disciplinary team of scientists.
 
It also undertook the village studies to understand the farming systems in rural areas and also help in identifying the socio-economic and institutional constraints faced by the farming community in the State. The studies offer an unique opportunity to examine the gender implications of changes in production systems over time, especially focusing on nutrition. The program at present is underway in two villages Aurepalle and Dokur in Mahabubnagar district.
 
G.Rajendera Kumar



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