Farmer showing Trichoderma treated seedlings (Left) and Without Trichoderma treated seedlings (right)
By: Dr. Sunil Kumar: Specialist-Plant Protection, IRRI, and Ms. Deepti Saksena: Specialist-Communication, IRRI
Rice grown under tropical conditions is susceptible to a number of insect pests, diseases, and other abiotic problems. If left untreated, it can lead to significant yield losses. Early detection and prophylaxis is an efficient management strategy to prevent losses from field problems of the crop caused by diseases, insect pests, nutrient deficiencies, and/or toxicities. Farmers, however, often face difficulty in diagnosing the problems correctly to take the appropriate remedial actions on time.
With better smartphone technology penetration among the rural communities, including Odisha, it has become possible to provide smart solutions to farmers to help them to diagnose the problems and use suggested measures to manage their crops efficiently. Hence, utilizing the Information Communication & Technology (ICT)-based platform, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has come up with a technological solution to address these issues in a fast and effective manner.
Rice Doctor is an android-based mobile App developed by IRRI. Since the incidence and intensity of insect and disease problems and their management strategies vary across locations, the App was adapted for Odisha to address the indigenous problems and their management solutions. Rice Doctor Odisha was developed as a part of the activities of the project, “Increasing Productivity of Rice-based Cropping Systems and Farmer’s Income”, with support from the Department of Agriculture and Farmer’s Empowerment (DAFE), Govt of Odisha. The App was officially launched on January 23, 2020, during the Krushi Odisha (an international exhibition-cum-fair), Bhubaneswar by Dr. Arun Kumar Sahoo, Honourable Minister, Agriculture & Farmers’ Empowerment, Fisheries & Animal Resources Development, Higher Education, Odisha along with other dignitaries.
Rice Doctor Odisha is a mid-season digital tool that helps agriculture extension workers and farmers to have an accurate and timely diagnosis of nearly 80 crop problems caused by insect pests, diseases, and abiotic stresses due to agronomic mismanagement, nutritional imbalance or the environment. It helps to visually diagnose the cause of the problem and provides actionable instantaneous advice for its prevention and management. It is available free in the google play store and can be operated offline without an internet connection. “The use of ICT tools for identification of crop problems has proven to be more effective than visual identification”, says Dr. Najam Zaidi, Senior Associate Scientist, Plant Pathologist, IRRI, who leads the work on Rice Doctor in Odisha. “There is also an increasing interest in utilizing ICTs in agriculture to help extension advisors and other intermediaries in delivering up to date information to farmers”, she adds.
Furthermore, in the area of Integrated Pest Management, IRRI has introduced Ecological Engineering-based Pest Management Interventions in rice in Odisha. Ecological engineering is the modification of the crop environment to enhance biological control for sustainable pest management. As part of the pest management interventions, seed treatment with Trichoderma formulation, installation of pheromone traps, trichocards, bund cropping by flower crops like marigold (to enhance natural enemy survival and action) are being promoted across Odisha. Among the pest management interventions, seed treatment with Trichoderma formulations is showing good results with increased plant growth and yield in addition to crop protection from diseases like sheath blight.
IRRI is building the capacity of women groups to develop their entrepreneurial skills for the local production of the bio-control agents. In this regard, IRRI in collaboration with the National Institute of Plant Health Management (NIPHM), Hyderabad organized a 3-day training program on “On–Farm Production of Bio agents for Promotion of Sustainable Agriculture”.
The purpose (http://news.irri.org/2020/02/equipping-women-farmers-to-drive.html) was to provide hands-on training on the production of bio-agents (bio-pesticides & bio-fertilizers), operational setup, marketing and business strategies of the production unit to promote the eco enterprises-led by women farmer entrepreneurs in Odisha.
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