Farmers in 2,800 villages across six districts in Telangana who raise cotton crop during the next kharif (vanakalam) season would have the help of information technology to predict the bollworm and other devastating pest infestations and take immediate measures to prevent crop damage to a large extent and improve income along wit the quality of the produce.
All this, deployment of traps and lures along with a mobile application developed by Wadhwani AI, would be provided free of cost to farmers as part of an agreement between the Agriculture Department and Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence (Wadhwani AI). While the Wadhwani AI would provide their solution (mobile app) free of cost to the State, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology would procure and deploy the traps and lures free of cost.
According to Principal Secretary (Agriculture) B. Janardhan Reddy, the Wadhwani AI already has MoU existing with the Department of IT, Electronics & Communication (ITEC) to facilitate AI-based solutions and with Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU) to help with agri science research, monitoring and deployment.
‘Third largest crop’
“Cotton is the third largest crop cultivated in India after paddy and wheat with 75% of it grown by small landholding farmers who struggle with uncertainty in yield and income. One of the critical challenges they face is the inability to manage pests despite heavy use of pesticides”, Mr. Reddy said.
Wadhwani AI has developed an AI solution that would equip smallholder cotton farmers with the scientific knowledge of an agriculture expert with the help of a simple smart phone. The solution, delivered via the mobile app, would provide real-time localised advisory and surveillance.
It would enable farmers to detect pest infestations early and take correct and immediate action to avoid crop damage and would improve their income with improved quality of produce.
“The solution is based on the scientific concept of action thresholds and is able to predict pink and American bollworm infestation with an accuracy of over 90%,” the Principal Secretary, who is also officiating as the Agriculture Commissioner, said.
In 2020 kharif, the solution was deployed by 700 lead farmers and 17,000 cascade farmers in Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat through agricultural programmes managed by top better cotton initiative partners.
The Wadhwani AI worked in 150 villages in Adilabad and Rangareddy districts collectively with 7,000 cascade farmers.