eWorld Forum 2012 :: Award Winners
Farm Crop Management System (FCMS) :: Agriculture DepartmeGovernment of Tamilnadu in partnership with IITM’s Rural Technology and Business Incubator(RTBI)
Project Category : Best ICT-enabled Agriculture Initiative of the Year
Details of Applicant :
Name: Jayalakshmi Umadikar
Address: Module#6 I Floor IITM Research Park,Kanagam Road, Taramani
State: Tamil Nadu
ZIP Code : 600113
Details of Project/Implementing Agency:
Name of Organisation: Agriculture Department, Government of Tamilnadu in partnership with IITM’s Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI)
Address: Agriculture Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, Secretaria Fort St. George
State: Tamil Nadu
Name of the Head of Organisation: Shri. Sandeep Saxena
Brief description of the programme/project/initiative :
The Government of Tamil Nadu envisages developing a ‘Farm Crop Management System (FCMS)’ that would aid and assist farmers in various aspects of crop management, helping them improve the quality of crops grown as well as bring in higher yields for the farmer. The government is attempting to implement farm level interventions through micro-level planning that can be assisted by the development of this system that could potentially enhance the information channels between farmers and the agricultural experts. Towards achieving the goal of the project, the Agriculture Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, has entered into a sanctioned partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI). RTBI is presently involved in customizing technology applications that will be used for data collection, data aggregation as well as for service delivery for farmers that will integrate the efforts of various stakeholders in the field of agriculture.
Why was the project started?
Agricultural practices in India have undergone significant developments over the last 50 years and have seen improvements in fertilizers, pesticides, seeds and cropping technologies. However, these have not always been passed onto the farmers. The Government of Tamilnadu has launched many initiatives in the agriculture sector and is aiming to develop agriculture at a farm level, by introducing farm level interventions through a comprehensive Farm Crop Management System (FCMS) that in collaboration with IITM’s RTBI, deploys cutting edge technologies, in order to benefit the 80 lakh farmers all over the State. This system would integrate farmer details, involve the agriculture extension & research officers, ensure timely input supply and offer crop growth monitoring, pest and disease surveillance as well as marketing linkages.
• To enable farmers to adopt improved cultivation methodology and techniques in their land holdings • To provide linkages and easy access to critical agricultural inputs in time • To enable farmers to use most appropriate farm machineries to reduce drudgery, labour costs and increase yield • To empower farmers with complete access to any information related to their farming operations • Activities related to the development of such a comprehensive Farm Crop Management System – such as development of crop cultivation matrix, finalization of future cropping plan specific to individual farm, assessment of critical inputs requirement at village, block and district level, integrating the efforts of all stakeholders and providing market linkage based on the assessment of production to get remunerative prices for the produce – will be carried out holistically and will be developed for each and every farm, to increase the quality and quantity of yield
Target Group: Farmers in the State of Tamilnadu
Please Specify reach within India : For now, the project is aimed at the State of Tamilnadu. However, the model can be emulated by other states as well.
Please Specify reach outside India : NA
Date from which the project became operational : April 2, 2012
Is the Project still operational : YES
10 points that make the programme/project initiative :
1. The aim is to cover a staggering 80 lakh farmers in this ambitious project and the end result is expected to be a tripling of the farmer income and a doubling of the entire agricultural production of the state. This project is unique both in terms of the numbers being covered and in the micro-level planning that is being undertaken.2. The first step of collecting baseline survey data of the 80 lakh farmers at block and village level has already begun. To expedite the process of data collection and transfer, the Agriculture Department has entered into a sanctioned partnership with IITM’s RTBI to develop a mobile form application as well as an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) application in the local language, Tamil. This has improved the speed and efficiency with which the data is being collected and transferred.3. As the FCMS system is being developed, the IVR application will be further refined to enable farmers themselves, to regularly update their farm specific information in the system and that too in the local language.4. In this comprehensive approach, the data that is collected covers almost all farming aspects viz.,farmer’s personal details, bank details, affiliation to various groups, land holdings, crops cultivated, source of irrigation, net income, plantation crops, farm animals, farm machineries, farm energy sources, micro irrigation facilities, apiary, fishery, sericulture and service requirement.5. All this data is being aggregated to facilitate agriculture and allied departments in planning the process for farm level interventions in helping farmers to undertake informed scientific cultivation.6. In keeping with the above mentioned goal, the Government is currently categorizing the villages based on the micro climatic conditions and is developing a crop plan (both Agriculture & Horticulture) in relation to soil type, irrigation and rainfall. They are working with IITM’s RTBI in delivering advisories regarding suitable individual farm-crop plans over voice application.7. Data about allied enterprises like dairy, poultry etc., is also being integrated as their adoption could lead to farmers gaining a higher net income.8. Along with delivering advisories regarding crop plan, the Government is also working with IITM’s RTBI in developing a databank of farm and crop-specific voice advisories that can be issued during the entire life cycle of a particular crop.9. The aggregated data is also being used by the Government along with IITM’s RTBI to develop many end user services such as Farm Machinery Rental Booking system over voice. Using this system, a farmer can call and book any available farm machinery from the comfort of his home/farm without having to actually visit the Agricultural Engineering Department office.10. For almost the first time, there will be one system that – • Is easily accessible to farmers for enquiring about availability of inputs, credit, insurance, farm machineries and other technologies • Brings together the various stakeholders synergizing their efforts • Allows for periodical monitoring by extension functionaries for corrective measures in scheme implementation
List 5 achievements of the programme/project:
1. Nearly 80 lakh farmers of the state are being covered under this programme, including small and marginal farmers who will benefit the most.2. Though the Government has launched many schemes for the benefit of the farmers, many are unable to take advantage of them for lack of adequate information as well as the challenges posed by the remoteness of villages. By using innovative technologies developed by IITM’s RTBI, farmers can now directly access information about schemes and make use of them, without having to move out of their villages.3. Using innovative technologies developed by IITM’s RTBI, Agriculture Department, Government of Tamilnadu is hoping to bridge the yield gap by providing scientific information regarding the most productive crop plan, suited to the individual farm, to all the farmers.4. The Department is following a holistic approach in the FCMS system by integrating farm-level planning with post-harvest processing as well as market linkages to ensure higher productivity.5. While scientists and experts have the latest information about new seeds and new farming technologies, this information does not reach out to the farmers. Again in partnership with IITM’s RTBI, the Agriculture Department, Government of Tamilnadu is aiming to provide proactive advisories to farmers right from choice of crops to pest and disease management and post-harvesting decisions.
List 5 key challenges faced while implementing the programme/project/initiative and how they were overcome?
1. Initially there was resistance offered to the adoption of new technologies in place of methods that end-users were already familiar with and infrastructure in place to support them. However, highlighting the benefits of the technologies in terms of cost-effectiveness and long-term sustainability along with a commitment from the Government to provide the necessary infrastructure, helped ease much of the resistance.2. Foreseeing that only data collection would lead to a lot of skepticism, the Government has also started integrating many end-user services with FCMS in collaboration with IITM’s RTBI, starting with booking of farm machinery on a rental basis over IVR.3. Considering the diverse nature of farmers in terms of language, crop terminology and diction, technology implementation for IITM’s RTBI was a challenge. Work is in progress to refine the technology allowing for a smoother system-farmer interaction.4. While the success of the technical implementation of the system was important, IITM’s RTBI along with the Government is now hoping to obtain crucial farmer feedback regarding the usability of the system as well as the effectiveness of the services offered.5. The FCMS programme by its very nature, will be a long-term programme and efforts are on to make certain there is enough farmer involvement to ensure its long-term sustainability.
List 5 points on how the programme can serve as a model that can be replicated or adapted by others?
1. Given that farmers in most states are facing challenges very similar to the ones faced by farmers in the State of Tamilnadu, the holistic approach that the Agriculture Department has taken to ensure support to the farmer from the choice of crop stage to the marketing stage, to ensure better output, can be emulated in many States.2. While most State Governments and the Central Government bring out many schemes to help farmers increase the quality and quantity of agricultural output, this information does not easily reach the neediest of the farmers. The manner in which the Government of Tamilnadu has taken the initiative to ensure information truly reaches farmers, using modern mobile technologies is to be truly appreciated and can easily be adopted by other Government agencies.3. The aim of the Government is to integrate data about various farming activities so that resources can be optimally utilized resulting in better economic status of the farmer.4. The Government has been quick to recognize the power of new, innovative technologies and in collaboration with IITM’s RTBI, has adapted them wherever possible to enable farmers to not only access information to schemes but also to start using the services. Many organizations that deal with large numbers can look at implementing mobile and voice technologies to quickly reach out to their audience.5. As highlighted above, along with data collection, the Government is also integrating services to allow the farmer to see first-hand the benefits of technology and of the system.
List 5 points to elaborate on the scalability of the programme/project/initiative :
1. Within India, the issues faced by farmers are very similar – challenges of water management, soil management as well as the information gaps that exist between experts and farmers. The approach taken by FCMS is aimed at tackling these challenges and bridging the information gaps, and can be extended to farmers in many other States.2. The technologies used are cutting-edge and yet very user-friendly. By including other local languages, these technologies can be easily used in other States as well.3. Crop plans are being drawn for regions across the State. This model can be used very effectively in other States where crop plans for various micro climatic conditions and in relation to soil type, irrigation and rainfall can be drawn and conveyed to individual farmers.4. Once the selection of the crop is conveyed, States can through a single database send out voice advisories related to that crop through its entire lifecycle, allowing the farmer to manage the crop better leading to better yields.5. Based on the data collected, States can also look at offering various end user services that will aid the farmer in managing his/her farm and crop better such as Rentals of farm machinery, purchase of inputs (pesticides and fertilizers) as well as information about post-harvesting processes and marketing.