Digital agriculture benefits millions of farmers in the Punjab

Digital Agriculture Farming in Punjab

According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 1.4 million farmers in Punjab have benefited from a 19-month digital agriculture project that enabled them to connect with agricultural experts for crop-related assistance.

The recommendations, according to a statement issued by IFAD, were made to specifically address each stage of the cropping cycle, including how to prepare the soil, choose seeds, and plant crops for the highest yield as well as how to apply fertiliser, irrigate fields, and control disease.

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According to the IFAD, the farmers also learned how to use biopesticides, tobacco spray, and animal manure instead of commercial products that were no longer accessible because to broken supply lines in order to become more robust. A local weather forecast system was created in collaboration with the Climate Forecast Applications Network to let farmers know what to expect in the next days.

According to the statement, almost 200,000 farmers are now receiving voice messages with periodic updates and advice, such as when to plant seeds and create channels to drain floodwater. 300,000 additional cotton producers were receiving advice on environmentally friendly insect control techniques.

During the Covid crisis, when farmers were unable to handle the new difficulties posed by the pandemic, such as finding substitutes for agricultural inputs that were no longer available or cost-effective produce with limited resources, the project was started to provide information to the farmers to withstand the crisis.

Even though they were frequently in charge of caring for the household’s animals, it was said that conventional gender conventions in Punjab prevent women from getting farming guidance. The statement said, ‘Digital agriculture’ made it simpler for women to access this information.

104,000 women did receive instructional messages, but more needed to be done, according to IFAD, to assure their access to mobile phones, which were sometimes only available to men in a family.

These technological instruments, together with other elements, were altering how Punjabi farmers operated. According to the statement, a research showed that 34% of farmers who utilised the platform implemented at least one new farming technique suggested by the programme. More than 40% of the farmers attributed this transformation to the digital advising services.

The IFAD added that the project’s outcomes provided evidence for long-term investment in digital agricultural extension and that it was working on other initiatives, including a national poverty graduation programme to provide digital services to Pakistan’s rural poor in order to help them improve their food security, nutrition, and resilience to climate change, using a small fraction of the resources required for face-to-face agricultural advice.

This demonstrates to the IFAD why digital agriculture must be at the core of its activities. Cost-effective solutions, including digital advice services, can assist the world’s poorest people in making the best decisions for themselves and their companies as they deal with skyrocketing food and energy prices, the statement continued.

According to the statement, the IFAD would spend $1.55 billion between 2022 and 2024 to fight poverty and hunger among the 3.4 billion people who live in rural areas of developing countries as a result of rising global hunger and climate change, which is affecting agricultural productivity.

According to the IFAD annual report, which was published last week, the Fund has “increased support to reach 128 million small-scale farmers and vulnerable individuals, of whom 49 percent of direct beneficiaries were women and 22 percent were youth.”

By pledging a record $1.55 billion to the agency’s core resources for the years 2022–24 with the goal of tripling its impact by 2030, the IFAD member states have acknowledged the significance of the Fund in addressing hunger, poverty, and the effects of climate change, it was stated.

Expanding the amount of investments made in rural regions will be essential to achieving this goal. If the final mobilisation targets are met, the IFAD would be able to increase the programme of work to $11.1 billion during 2022–2024, according to the report.

According to the research, Asia alone was home to more than 418 million hungry people, or more than half of all hungry people worldwide.

According to the report, about 3 million people on Pacific islands suffer from hunger. It also stated that the Fund’s main goal in the area was to improve food systems.

According to the report, the IFAD had committed $2.6 billion to 59 projects across 20 countries by the end of 2019.

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