Agriculturists in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh (MP) face major challenges related to climate change and variability. Floods and droughts, along with unseasonal rains, hailstorms, and frost, are common and result in significant production and productivity variations. The decline in groundwater levels and soil fertility, the infestation of previously unknown pests, poor drainage, and waterlogging also lead to ruined crops and financial losses.
They also lead farmers to debt, as a result of which many work on leased land or migrate in search of work to make up for losses. Lack of access and knowledge has prevented farmers from using modern agricultural practices and adopting technology to increase productivity and profits.
The Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change (SLACC) agency of the World Bank has partnered with the Government of India (GoI) to improve the livelihoods of these smallholder farmers. The Cropin intervention is a part of the GoI-SLACC project that aims to build climate adaptation and climate resilience among smallholder farmers in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh by leveraging technology. It has impacted 8,000 plus farmers.
The multi-faceted challenges that result in lower productivity
Climate change-related challenges, soil degradation, lower crop yield, poor quality of produce, and increased pest infestation are some of the issues that result in productivity losses for farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The slow adoption of modern farming technologies by farmers is a significant factor that hampers agricultural progress in both States.
Farmers need a technology platform that provides a climate-resilient agricultural model and gives early warning signs about problems that may emerge — right from the moment seeds are sown to when crops are harvested. They also require advisories that covered various topics, like sowing window, irrigation scheduling, input usage, harvest window, and adverse weather events during the season. Data collection on farming operations is also a prerequisite. The SLACC-Cropin intervention meets most of the demands with an advanced farm management solution.
A climate-resilient agricultural ecosystem takes shape with digitalization
The development objective of the SLACC project in India is to improve the adaptive capacity of poor smallholder farmers through community-based interventions. The rural poor are severely impacted by climate variability and change, as their livelihoods depend on agriculture. SLACC and GoI deployed a climate-resilience program in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh in collaboration with the state governments and with the support of village resource persons (VRPs)/lead farmers, mainly women. The partnership focuses on getting farmers to adapt to climate change and sustainable farming practices — from sowing to harvest — and building a better agricultural ecosystem.
Cropin intervention is focused on piloting and scaling digital solutions, adapting them to the local context, providing advisories, capacity building, training, and knowledge management. Large-scale pilots were conducted in four districts of Bihar (Gaya and Madhubani) and Madhya Pradesh (Sheopur and Mandla) to test the effectiveness of the digital applications in developing climate-resilient solutions. Multilingual support in Indian languages ensures adaptability to the local context.
Digitization of farming operations and farmer profiles was the next step. Agricultural plots were geo-tagged with location-specific geographical markers, and the area was audited and registered on the platform. Package of Practices (PoPs) for crops appropriate for the region was shared with the farmers with recommended advisories for crop varieties.
The farm management solution was configured for monitoring crop performance and production. It captured various parameters through stages of farming and systematically monitored them to increase productivity at every step. Cropin leveraged artificial intelligence and machine learning-based predictive modeling and provided early warning systems for weather events. Weather-based advisories promoting climate-smart agriculture were shared at regular intervals. The advisories included farming practices for seed, crop, nutrient, soil, and water management. Pest and disease alerts, and solutions, were also made available to farmers.
Qualified and experienced staff trained VRP to use the application and interpret reports correctly. The VRPs convinced and motivated small and marginal farmers and then taught them to use advisories and agricultural best practices to enjoy maximum benefit. Cropin monitored data collection to check activation numbers. Intuitive SISENSE-powered dashboards enabled direct communication with the farmers via SMS and triggered timely alerts and advisories.
Data collection was migrated to the digital platform. It ensured up-to-date knowledge management with data organized and presented logically for easy access, refreshing, and sharing. Field workers and officers had access to the product user manual and feature update alerts, which ensured they were both equipped and informed.
The numbers reveal the impact
The SLACC-Cropin project has positively impacted farmers in the districts it was adopted in, as beneficiary farmers implemented 80% of the PoPs and advisories. It has led to:
- Demonstration of climate-resilient agricultural practices - 92%
- Farmers satisfied with satellite-based advisories - 90%
- The average increase in yield - over 30%
- Growth in the average income - nearly 37%
The platform integrated processes and stakeholders, which resulted in improved monitoring and traceability. It allowed for instantaneous and uniform dissemination of knowledge across VRPs that gets passed down to farmers.
The ongoing project has empowered women in agriculture. The program was implemented with the support of 200 women VRPs who were trained to engage with the farmers and increase adoption. They are the change agents who will help scale up the digital interventions across other districts of the states in the future.
Founded in 2010, Cropin is a global Agtech pioneer who has built the world's first purpose-built industry cloud for Agriculture - Cropin Cloud, an Intelligent Agriculture Cloud.
Cropin Cloud enables various stakeholders in the agri-ecosystem to leverage digitization and predictive intelligence to make effective decisions that increase farming efficiency, scale productivity, manage risk and environmental changes and enhance sustainability. Cropin has been instrumental in creating the global Agtech category and bringing advanced technologies together to transform farmers' lives worldwide through partnerships with agri-businesses, governments, and development agencies across 56 countries. They helped the ecosystem to eliminate the uncertainties associated with farming and made it predictable, traceable, and sustainable.
Cropin Cloud combines cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, satellite imagery, and remote sensing. It helps derive real-time actionable insights to build a connected and sustainable agri-ecosystem that can benefit farmers, farming companies, agri-input providers, food processing companies, retailers, financial service providers, governments and development agencies.