Commodities

Now, an app to alert potato farmers on weather & pest attacks

Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata | Updated on July 02, 2014 Published on July 02, 2014

Available at ₹99, it will be launched by year-end





Over 40 lakh potato farmers in West Bengal may now have a different set of tools to help them minimise the damage of blight attack. Bengal is the second-largest potato growing State in the country.

Blight is a fungal infection that causes major damage to the crop. The propensity of the attack varies with weather conditions. In the last harvesting season, Bengal lost nearly five per cent of its crop to a blight attack.

ExpressWeather, a Kolkata-based private weather forecasting agency, has tied up with the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI), Shimla, to develop a mobile and web-based weather application that will alert farmers on changing climate conditions and the possibility of pest attacks or diseases.

A similar app will be launched next year for mustard farmers. The app runs on Android operating system (for mobile phones) and the fee-based application for potato farmers will be rolled out in the coming sowing season towards the year-end.

Launches in UP, the largest potato-growing State, will be finalised once the State Government helps facilitate the local weather data that is to be simulated with the agronomical information sourced from CPRI. “We have decided to roll out the services in West Bengal first, as the infrastructure is available,” Angshujyoti Das, MD & CEO of ExpressWeather told Business Line.

Upgraded observatories

The State Government has recently replaced its age old observatories with 147 state-of-the-art automatic observatories that directly send real-time weather data to the collection centre.

The local weather information is simulated with the satellite data for accurate location specific forecasting.

ExpressWeather (and other such private agencies) already offer specific climate based services to grape, pomegranate, cotton farmers in Maharashtra, Karnataka. Banks and corporates involved with in the agri sector are major users of private weather data.

Beneficiaries

In West Bengal, PepsiCo India is already using such data to give necessary advisory to its contracted farmers producing process grade potato.

According to Das, its forthcoming services will broaden the scope of utility of such data depending on the variety of seed, sowing time, and location.

“In the same locality of five km radius, the probability of attack may vary depending on sowing pattern and use of agri-inputs. Again, other things remaining same, the possibilities of damage may differ depending on location-specific change in weather conditions,” he said. To be available at ₹99 a month, the app will keep the farmer informed about the possibilities for the entire three month season.

Das estimates that a mere 20,000 subscribers (0.4 per cent of the potato farmers in the state) a year will help him recover the costs.



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Published on July 02, 2014
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