Digital advisory tools: reaching last-mile users in India

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12 January 2024, India: PlantwisePlus presented its suite of digital advisory tools to end users at the recent AgTech 2023 conference in Andhra Pradesh, India. The PlantwisePlus digital tools are helping improve knowledge and uptake of integrated pest management (IPM) practices. As such, they align with Andhra Pradesh’s Natural Farming Initiative, which promotes the use of agricultural approaches that are in harmony with nature.

PlantwisePlus digital advisory tools on display

Agriculture Minister for Andhra Pradesh, the Honourable Mr K. Govardhan Reddy, inaugurated the AgTech conference, welcoming around 15,000 attendees. The minister spoke of how the Andhra Pradesh government had undertaken several initiatives, such as the Natural Farming Initiative, to help farmers sustainably increase their income and farm outputs.

Visitors could browse nearly 100 stands featuring agricultural products and services such as finance, seeds, biofertilizers, pesticides, biopesticides and drones. One of the event’s most visited stands was the PlantwisePlus stall, featuring information on CABI’s services, projects and tools. Visitors also had the opportunity to learn about and use the PlantwisePlus digital advisory tools, such as the CABI Bioprotection Portal and Crop Sprayer app.

Digital advisory tools and IPM

Senior PlantwisePlus Project Manager Claire Curry, Agri-Digital Tools Coordinator Madhu Manjari, and Crop Health Advisor Mahesh MH welcomed the many visitors to the stand. The CABI team by students from Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU). Attendees included farmers, students, scientists, and government officials from across Andhra Pradesh keen to learn more about the digital tools available through the PlantwisePlus programme.

The programme’s digital advisory tools ensure essential information and learning materials are easily accessible for plant health monitoring and management. In addition, PlantwisePlus supports rural youth, women, and men in developing and pursuing new income-generating opportunities within agricultural service provision.

CABI Bioprotection Portal

The CABI Bioprotection Portal and Crop Sprayer app were of particular interest to stand visitors. The CABI BioProtection Portal is an open-access tool that provides users with information about registered biocontrol and biopesticide products in their country. It aims to help growers and agricultural advisors identify, source and correctly apply these products against problematic pests in their crops. The conference provided an opportunity to talk with bioprotection manufacturers to expand the number of products featured on the portal.

Crop Sprayer app

The Crop Sprayer mobile app ensures users apply just the right amount of pesticide to treat and protect crops from pests. If a farmer decides it is appropriate to use pesticides as part of their IPM strategy, then the app helps with the often tricky calculations. Not only does this help tackle issues around misuse and overuse, but it also means farmers do not have unused pesticides left over, which poses challenges with pesticide disposal.

Increasing awareness of digital advisory tools

During the Ag-Tech conference, Claire Curry and Madhu Manjari both had the opportunity to participate in panel discussions alongside speakers from prominent names in the agricultural sector. Discussions centred around bringing scientific information closer to farmers and biological and regenerative practices for sustainable agriculture.

The conference focused on sustainable agricultural development, including new farming techniques and technologies. As such, it facilitated networking and collaboration opportunities among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers, with attendees identifying the next steps in scaling up and adopting agricultural innovations.

Claire Curry and Madhu Manjari also met with higher officials from the Agriculture Department for Andhra Pradesh to discuss integrating the PlantwisePlus digital tools into the region’s 10,000 farmer facilitation centres. A state-level committee will be formed to increase awareness and usage of the programme’s digital advisory platforms.

Also Read: UPL to strengthen fungicide portfolio with acquisition of Corteva’s Mancozeb business

(For Latest Agriculture News & Updates, follow Krishak Jagat on Google News)

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