Ahead of 2019 elections, government plans to extend outreach to farmers

Aim is to take IMD’s agro-meteorological services to nearly half of 94 million farmer households before 2019 polls.

Published: 13th July 2018 02:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th July 2018 05:54 AM   |  A+A-

A farmer works in wheat field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India February 1, 2018. | Reuters

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Government plans to extend the agro-meteorological services of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) to nearly half of the country’s 94 million farmer households within one year to help them plan farm operations. The aim is to achieve the target before the 2019 elections.

The Agro-meteorological Advisory Services (AAS) under the Gramin Krishi Mausam Seva (GKMS) are used to prepare biweekly weather-based AAS bulletins for wider dissemination to farmers at the district level through multimedia channels and through SMS.

The Centre plans to provide cellphone-based agro-weather services to over 40 million farmer households in next one year.

At present, 26 million farmers are directly subscribing to SMS-based AAS bulletins. As per a National Council of Applied Economic Research report, the farming community in the country is using the GKMS service products for critical farm operations—management of sowing (in the event of delayed onset of rains), changing crop variety (due to delay in rainfall), spraying pesticides for disease control (on occurrence of rainfall), and managing irrigation (after heavy rainfall is forecast).

The plan is that by 2020, every district in the country should have a district agromet unit for providing district-scale agromet advisory services, and around 870 agromet observatories for monitoring evaporation and soil moisture, among other things.

Of the 26 million beneficiaries at present, about 7 million are provided the bulletins through a public-private partnership, and 19 million get them through the government-run kisan portal.

“These advisories, generated in advance and covering a large area, their accuracy has a limitation due to local agro-ecological variations. To tackle this, IMD has set up 27 doppler radars to feed information into weather stations on extreme weather situations,” said an official of the ministry of earth sciences.

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