In Maharashtra, farmers ‘Whatsapp’ for agri-information
“Shetkari Mitra” (farmers’ friend) a whatsapp group in Yavatmal, Maharashtra, is becoming a popular method for sharing information on agriculture. M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation’s Village Resource Centre, created this group with over 130 farmers from different villages, who use Whatsapp. Through this group, information is shared on agriculture, marketing, animal husbandry and government schemes.
To increase the number of farmers who can benefit from this instant messaging platform, farmers with android phones were oriented to its applications for agriculture. The Village Resource Centre (VRC), Yavatmal organized a one-day workshop for farmers on android mobile-based application for agriculture and oriented 20 farmers on June 13, 2016. The farmers were oriented about different applications such us weather forecasting, pest & disease management, weed management, irrigation management and agriculture commodity market prices, among others.
The members of these groups get information directly with one click about field problems. They share agri-based information on crop damage, new irrigation techniques, crop pattern, pesticide use, new cultivation methods, preventing crop diseases, increasing yield and taking care of domestic animals. Interestingly, the group also includes scientists, experts and consultants related to agriculture who keep guiding them on diseases related to animals.
The farmers regularly send their queries on the group and receive proper advisory on a single click. This service of the VRC clubbing technology as well as timely information has been greatly beneficial to the farming community in the region. This service started for farmers in June 2016, has encouraged over 130 farmers to join this group from different villages i.e. Dabha, Nandura, Nanza, Balkheda, Gohagaon, Loni, Weni, Jasspur, Ralegaon, Papal, Waifad, Bodad villages of Vidarbha region.
Says Mr Gajanan Mahajan, farmer from Ralegon, Yavatmal District, “I am using the Whatsapp service started by VRC regularly for the past eight months. It’s very helpful for me because earlier we need to physically go to the VRC with sample of infested crop for diagnosis but now I send crop images through Whatsapp & get recommendations using technology saving time and money.”
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.