A first of its kind agriculture guide and website that will take farmers through every single step in farming is in the pipeline in Alappuzha.

The ambitious project, which even aims to have touch-screen information kiosks at vantage points in agricultural areas and public places such as bus-stands in due course of time, is the brainchild of District Collector P. Venugopal and is expected to progressively incorporate more details so that farmers from across the State, and not just Alappuzha, can benefit.

According to K.G. Padmakumar, Associate Director at the Kumarakom Regional Agriculture Research Station (RARS) and chairman of a committee set up to implement the project, says the guide and website, a preliminary form of which is expected to be ready in three months, will offer everything that a lay farmer needs to know about farming, initially with specific focus on crops commonly cultivated in the Alappuzha region.

The availability of seeds, where to get them, purchase of planting material, sowing methods, fertilisation, pest management and weather will be among the topics on which information will be available.

Details of scientists in allied fields, their works, telephone numbers of scientists as well as officials concerned and even panchayat-level soil maps are also intended.

The website, Dr. Padmakumar told The Hindu, will be set up with help from the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) while support of institutions like the Mankombu Rice Research Institute, the Agriculture Department, the Onattukara Regional Agriculture Research Centre and RARS will also be taken.

“It will be a ready reckoner for farmers, with digitised data in the website, and otherwise in the guide. We are aiming to start with Alappuzha and gradually include details for farmers in Kottayam and other areas,” he said.

The website will also be a triangular link between farmers, officials and scientists with stories, printed and visual, of model farmers, tips from scientists etc., to be featured.

“It is quite an ambitious project, hoping that farmers can access every bit of information on agriculture, whether it is on paddy, mushroom or even ornamental fish cultivation, even while waiting at a bus-stand,” Dr. Padmakumar added.

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