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Everyone has weather updates on their fingertips in this village

Women in Anjantheli village of Karnal district are now more involved in farming activities post the climate-smart village project. Photo: Meena Menon  

Ruby Mehla had little to do with farming till she started getting messages on weather forecasts on her cell phone.

She was studying for an M.Tech degree after her marriage when she moved to Anjanthali village in Karnal district, Haryana. The village was among the first to be included in the Mobile Solution programme, part of the climate smart intervention by Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), a research programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Under this, agriculture-related advisories are sent to farmers and mainly targeted at women and small farmers.

Anjantheli was the first climate-smart village in Karnal district. Under the project, voice and text messages are sent to farmers twice a week in Hindi or the local language with information on weather forecasts and recommended actions that farmers should take, information on pests and remedies, seed varieties and additional messages on climate change and its impact on agriculture. The pilot project allows farmers to call a helpline as well.

Though few women take part in farming activities here, messages were sent to them also on a regular basis. “Earlier we didn’t know much about weather forecasts and there was very little conversation. Now the women are involved in discussion on farming,” said Ms. Mehla. The village has elected a woman as sarpanch, Suman Devi, who also takes a keen interest in farming.

For the first time 50 women in this village have formed a group of sorts which meets regularly and have a savings kitty. “Even household issues are discussed. There is excessive use of fertilizers here and we are trying to reduce that. Also we are asking farmers to stop burning residue of rice stocks since that is causing pollution,” Ms. Mehla explained.

About 250 families which get such text messages say it often helps them prepare in advance. For instance, they can wait for a while before hiring a generator to pump water and make a saving on rent. More than farming, these messages have succeeded in drawing the women out from their homes and giving them confidence.

The programme began in August 2013 in eight villages in Bihar and Haryana covering 900 farmers, 20 per cent of them women. In July this year, messages were sent to 1,400 farmers in 50 villages in Karnal and Bihar and 10 villages in Punjab.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 1:20:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/everyone-has-weather-updates-on-their-fingertips-in-this-village/article6386674.ece

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