Digitizing Agriculture
TerraGreen|November 2020
The Way Forward for India’s Farmers
Nitin Jugran Bahuguna

Gujarat farmers use ‘Cotton Doctor’ mobile app to save crops, boost yields, says Nitin Jugran Bahuguna. Read on to know more!

Weather uncertainties due to climate change and increased pest attacks on their crops in recent years have caused widespread destruction of plants and huge financial losses for cotton farmers in Gujarat. Parth Patel, 21, of Dhavat village in Vadodara district is just one of thousands of cotton growers struggling with the vexing issue of pink bollworm (PBW) infestation on his saplings.

When he noticed that the leaves of his younger crops were getting yellow and that their quality had also declined, he immediately uploaded a photo of one of the plants on his phone to a special mobile app and got a response from a scientist after two days. ‘I was advised to use a particular chemical containing calcium to improve plant immunity as they were not growing due to calcium deficiency,’ he recalls.

When the problem of pest attacks occurred again last year, farmer Chandrakant Patel, 42, of Vemur village, located about 50 km away from Vadodara, immediately swung into action, taking pictures of the affected saplings and uploading them on his phone to the special app. ‘Within 24 hours, I got a solution to my problem via the app and I was able to take timely action of applying a recommended pesticide on the crops to save them,’ he discloses.

Chandrakant and Parth belong to a new generation of farmers who are taking recourse to digital aid to help them understand the environmental elements around them in order to boost production. The Android and web-based Decision Support System (DSS), dubbed the ‘Cotton Doctor’, is an agri-tech tool that alerts farmers about weather vulnerabilities and assists them in making informed and effective decisions on cotton growing so they can derive the maximum benefits and returns from cotton cultivation.

‘There are 20 farmers in my village who are using the app. I started using it in August 2019,’ explains Chandrakant, who has devoted 1acre of his total 7.5 acres to cotton cultivation. ‘It is very useful in forecasting weather up to seven days. I plan my schedule as per the weather alerts. If it predicts rain, I know I do not have to water my fields and hence save water. Also, I will not apply pesticides on such days.’

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