Meghalaya farmers to get benefit from central project

Over 5000 farmers in Meghalaya's three districts -Ri-bhoi, East Khasi Hills and West Garo Hills - are all set to benefit from a pilot project of the Centre in which farmers would be linked with experts directly using their mobile phones, officials said.

The pilot project, an outcome of the comprehensive need assessment study among 1381 farmers across 12 states and 26 major Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) initiatives, is aimed at empowering farmers by providing right information through a mobile-based agro advisory system.

Advisory on agricultural and Horticultural produces such as rice, Khasi mandarin, pineapple, ginger, vegetables and other crops would be made available in the system which is set to be formally launched on June 8.

In the first phase, 25 villages in Ri-Bhoi district have been selected while in the second phase about 20 villages in East Khasi Hills and five in West Garo Hills have been selected, V K Bhatia, project director said.

Implemented by the College of Post Graduate Studies, Umiam of the Central Agricultural University, the project will be assisted by the Media lab Asia as IT partner.

The system allows transmitting data through voice, text and images between the farmers and the experts, a senior research associate of the project said.

One of the basic advantages of the system is that it would have a centralized database of farmers and their historical data including the type of farming and previous interactions, he said.

Among the important component of the project is one where there is a facility to refer critical problems to relevant crop specialists available virtually and live interaction with scientists, an ICAR official said.

Based on the success of the project in Meghalaya, it is likely that the Centre would extend similar services to farmers in other states in the north east as well, they said.