Crop Pest Surveillance and Advisory Project (CROPSAP)
Commissionerate of Agriculture, Maharashtra State

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Agriculture in Maharashtra is a predominantly rainfed. Cotton and soybean are the two major kharif crops that covers 77.89 lakh hectares and collectively occupies 58% of the total area under kharif crops. At national level Maharashtra ranks 2nd in respect of production of Cotton and Soybean crop by contributing to 22.50% and 31.81% share respectively (Ref. Year 2012-13). Better productivity coupled with higher market prices resulted in increased area under soybean and cotton crops. Prior to implementation of initiative crop pest surveillance was not carried out in holistic manner. The activity was done on visual observations of the field staff of Agriculture Department. They have their own limitations about properly understanding the pest problem and advising appropriate control measures to the farmers. Apart from that, the field staff was over burdened with implementation of various schemes of the department hence, they could not pay proper and timely attention to the crop pest issues. Similar was the case with farmers as they have limited access to the experts from Agriculture Universities as such they were dependent either on the field staff of the department or on the pesticide dealers. During 2008-09, the state in general and Vidarbha and Marathwada regions in particular witnessed severe outbreak of leaf defoliators viz. Spodoptera litura, Helicoverpa armigera and other leaf eating caterpillars on soybean crop leading to crop devastation. 48% of the total area under Soybean cultivation was infested and out of that 71.31% area was damaged more than 50% resulting into monetary losses to the tune of ₹1392 Cr. ($ 290 million). State government paid compensation worth ₹ 450 Cr. ($ 93.75 million) to farmers. The pest monitoring system existing by that time could not timely detect the problem leading to severe pest epidemic on Soybean. As the existing system of pest monitoring was lacking with scientific pest surveillance approach the early detection of pest problem was not possible otherwise crop losses could have been avoided. In general 20-30% crop losses occurred due to pest and diseases. Central Government deputed a team of expert to study the reasons of outbreak. The reasons recorded are as below, 1. Lack of understanding about the pest identification coupled with paucity of manpower to tackle the situation. 2. Lack of collective approach by various agencies involved in field of plant protection towards pest management in response to the emergent severe pest outbreak. 3. Multitasking nature of duties of field staff of State Department of Agriculture (SDA) leading to improper focus on a particular crop and specific pest problems. 4. Poor adoption of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices for better crop protection. 5. Indiscriminate use of pesticides and their dosages. 6. Spodoptera litura pest is polyphagous having wider dispersal capability, as such, exact niches of its development were not known to field staff and farmers.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The post epidemic analysis of pest attack on Soybean crop by the Expert team brought out some salient reasons for severity of the problem and difficulties encountered in its effective management. State Agriculture Department appreciated the recommendations of Expert Team and invited experts from National Centre for Integrated Pest Management (NCIPM), New Delhi, various Crop Research Institutes of Indian Council of Agriculture Research and State Agriculture Universities (SAUs) to decide long-term strategies to be adopted for resolving the problem. A project entitled “Crop Pest Surveillance and Advisory Project” (CROPSAP) was formulated and implemented from 2009-10 in the State. In project, State Department is the key nodal agency for execution, NCIPM is the technical nodal agency and all others are the stakeholders for the project. As such, it was the first of its kind multi-stakeholder project implemented in the country in field of plant protection. Following key strategies were decided to be implemented under the project. 1. Priority given to bridging the gap in research and extension mechanism 2. Develop scientific on-line pest monitoring and advisory system using ICT tools. 3. Involvement of experts for on-line real time location specific advisory to farmers. 4. Capacity building and awareness of field staff and farmers. 5. GIS based endemic pest pockets mapping and management of the same. 6. Free plant protection advisory SMS to farmers. 7. Wide media publicity for mass awareness creation. 8. Timely supply of inputs for pest management. 9. Contractual staff for pest surveillance, data feeding and advisory dissemination. Software was developed for on-line pest monitoring and advisory system. Advisory capsules were developed to disseminate location specific pest advisories based on pest infestation level. Entire activity from data entry, interpretation to issuance of advisory was made on-line. ICT tools were provided to all stakeholders and departmental staff up to block level. Contractual manpower was utilized exclusively for pest monitoring activity. Capacity building of field staff and farmers was carried out through pre-seasonal training programmes through experts. Mass awareness carried out through electronic and print media. Considering the cropping pattern of dryland areas in the State key crops viz. Rice, Cotton, Soybean, Pigeon pea and Gram were selected under the projects. These crops covered 80% area of Kharif season and 98% area of Rabi pulses. Major pests of economic importance of particular crop were selected for surveillance and monitoring. Trained pest scouts records regular observations two times in a week and data uploaded on-line on software. The analyzed data is accessible to the experts from SAUs and they interpret it and suggest location specific scientific advisories to field staff. Field officers disseminate advisories to farmers through SMS and detail advisory is pasted on Village Panchayat boards. Current crop pest situation and strategies to deal with are informed to farmers in weekly village level meetings. Mass awareness created through print and electronic media. Based on GIS mapping pest pockets are identified and pesticide are supplied on subsidy through convergence under various schemes to maintain pest population below Economic Threshold Level. Through capacity building programmes awareness among farmers and field staff has increased about pest identification and control strategies to be adopted. The location specific scientific advisories made farmers well equipped to deal with the situation. As the advisories issued directly by experts it has helped to bridge knowledge gap. As such, since inception of project despite unfavourable climatic conditions in subsequent years there was no outbreak of any major pests on the crops under project.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
This was the first e-Pest surveillance initiative implemented in country in the field of plant protection. Software was developed for on-line pest monitoring and advisory system. Rapid communication technology tools were used for effective and accurate dissemination of advisories to end users. Mass communication media were effectively utilized for awareness creation. Experts were directly involved under the project that proves the creativity of initiative. It is an innovative multi-stakeholder initiative in the field of plant protection. The project is implemented on the scientific principals viz. Integrated Pest Management, Integrated Crop Management and Economic Threshold Level that helped to manage the pest problems in eco-friendly and economic manner. As such, it is innovative in terms of much needed synergy in working for common cause among research institutes and Agriculture Department. Data is accessible to all stakeholders and advisory is accessible to farmers as such there is total transparency in the project. Under the project farmer need not have to approach Government but Government directly approaches farmers as such it is G to C type of project. Data generated is immensely useful for advance research. The farmers share advisories given under project that has indirectly helped to develop social harmony.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The key elements of action plan were development of software, use of ICT tools, involvement of experts, mass awareness creation and management of pest problems. Chronology of the action plan implemented under project is given below, 1. Development of software – Software was developed by the computer scientists of NCIPM. Inputs on crops selected under the project, their key pests, economic threshold level of each pest etc. was provided by crop research scientist for software development. Software application developed as asp.net platform using back end data base in SQL-2000 server hosted on the web server (www.ncipm.org.in) of NCIPM. Software was developed for data feeding, interpretation, report generation, GIS based mapping and advisory dissemination. 2. Involvement of experts – Experts from Crop Research Institutes of National Level and State Agriculture Universities were involved for scientific inputs for software development. They have designed pest observation data sheets for data up-loading and advisory capsules to be disseminated at particular crop pest level. These advisories are integrated in the software. Experts interpret the analyzed data for issuance of appropriate location specific advisory. They also help to upgrade the project based on latest scientific research. Correlation analysis of weather parameters and pest population dynamics are carried out by scientists for development of pest forecasting modules. 3. Capacity building – Knowledge updation of field staff is carried out by pre-seasonal trainings at University level. The trained staff in-turn carry out on-farm trainings of farmers. The feed-back under trainings is given to the experts for developing further updation. 4. Surveillance, Monitoring and Advisory - Pest scouts and data entry operators were appointed on contractual basis exclusively for the project. Pest scouts are trained at Agriculture University about pest identification, Data entry operators are trained by experts from NCIPM. One pest scouts is appointed for approximately 12,000 hectare area covering 8-10 villages. Pest scouts records observations every week on Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday from 16 fixed plots and 16 random plots on predetermined data sheets. Pest monitors are appointed to verify the activity of pest scouts. For every 10 scout one pest monitor is appointed. Apart from monitoring they also undertake roving survey and records observation in data sheet. Data entry operator up-load the data from observation sheets of pest scouts and pest monitors on every Wednesday and Friday. Data up-loaded on-line is processed through software and reports are generated at NCIPM. Experts interpret data for issuance of location specific advisory. Detail and short advisories are issued to Sub-Divisional Agriculture officers (SDAO) every Thursday and Monday. There are 823 pest scouts, 84 pest monitors and 84 data entry operators are working in the project. SDAOs issue short advisories through SMS to farmers and detail advisories are pasted on village panchayat notice boards. They also arrange visits of scientists to endemic pocket and provide guidance to farmers. At identified endemic pest pockets they provide pesticide on subsidy to suppress pest population below ETL. 5. Mass Awareness – SDAOs organize mass awareness campaigns at block level. Print media and electronic media are effectively used. Apart from that farmers rallies, exhibitions etc. are also organized. Village level weekly meeting are organized by field staff. 6. Research and Development – Data generated through project is utilized for advance research and project updation. Data is utilized for GIS based pest mapping and correlating effects of weather parameters with pest population dynamics. Long term data will be helpful for developing pest forecasting modules. 7. State Level Steering Committee – Project steering formed under Chairmanship of Commissioner Agriculture involving all stakeholders to formulate guidelines, review and up-date project and suggest policy matters to Government.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The details of stakeholder involved in project implementation along with their roles is given below, A. Commissioner Agriculture (State Department): 1. Key implementing agency of the project. 2. Formulated the multi-stakeholder project involving ICAR and SAUs. 3. Maintain synergy among research institutes and Department of Agriculture in working for a common cause. 4. Out sourcing of man power for pest surveillance activity 5. Give location specific real time advice to farmers through SMS. 6. Provide ICT tools to all stakeholders. 7. Incorporated scientific concepts viz. IPM, ICM and ETL. 8. Mass awareness campaigns through electronic and print media. 9. Pesticides supply on 50% subsidy. 10. Effective system has been put in place for scientific surveillance and management. B. National Centre for Integrated Pest Management, New Delhi: 1. Nodal technical agency for development and maintenance of software. 2. Analyze data and make available on-line to stakeholders. 3. Training for software operations. 4. Maintenance of data base. C. Central Crop Research Institutes from Indian Council for Agriculture Research: The crop research institutes viz. Directorate of Soybean Research, Central Institute for Cotton Research, Indian Institute for Pulses Research and Central Rice Research Institute 1. Formulation of crop specific IPM strategies. 2. Field visits to hotspot areas for suggesting remedies for pest management. 3. Conduct exposure visits of officers for skill development and updating their knowledge. D. Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad: 1. Collection of weather data and developing correlation analysis with pest dynamics. 2. Formulate weather based pest-disease fore-alarming modules E. National Institute for Plant Health Management, Hyderabad: Trainings on Agro-Ecosystem Analysis and Ecological Engineering for field staff. F. State Agriculture Universities (SAUs): 1. Train the Master Trainers for pest surveillance. 2. Interpret pest data and issue pest advisory. 3. Field visits to hotspot areas to suggest remedies for pest management.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The project was initially planned and implemented under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY) of the Govt. of India. From 2009-10 to 2012-13 the funding for the project was made through RKVY. Looking to the success of the project State Govt. has taken a policy decision to implement the project through State Plan funds from 2013-14 onwards. Currently the project is run through State Funds. State Agriculture Department is the nodal agency for implementation of the project. NCIPM is the technical nodal agency for implementation of the project. Apart from that Central Crop Research Institutes viz. Directorate of Soybean Research (DSR), Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Indian Institute for Pulses Research (IIPR), Central Rice Research Institute (CRR), Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), National Institute for Plant Health Management (NIPHM) and State Agriculture Universities (SAUs) were the technical stakeholders for the project. State Department has appointed contractual staff for pest surveillance activity and Data entry work. Research Associates are appointed at Research Institute Level and Commissionerate level. Software and server supporters are also appointed on contractual basis at NCIPM and department level. Pest monitors and master trainers are the departmental staff. Scientific input is taken from experts of research institutes. NCIPM has developed software in consultation with experts and State Department of Agriculture. The scientists from research institutes provided technical input for software development. They have also helped in developing advisory capsules for dissemination. Contractual staff is used for surveillance, data collection and uploading. Data analyzed through software is interpreted by experts from research institutes for issuance of advisories. The project is implemented in all the 33 districts of the state covering five major crops. Pest scouts are trained at SAUs, data entry operators and software supporters are trained by NCIPM experts. Based on pest situation location specific advisories are issued by experts and those are forwarded by SDAOs to farmers and field staff. Field staff conducts farmer trainings and also up date about pest situation in village level meetings. Pesticides are supplied on subsidy by District Superintending Agriculture Officer in affected areas. SDAOs organizes mass awareness campaigns through electronic and print media. Financial provision and budget distribution for the project is made by the Commissionerate of Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1. Software Development - First time in the country e-Pest surveillance and monitoring concept was successfully implemented. Software for pest monitoring on real time basis and advisory issuance was evolved and implemented resulting to automation and increased efficiency. Software has helped to improve delivery time of services. Direct technical advice from experts became possible and thereby bridging the gap between research and extension. Through GIP mapping correlation between pest population dynamics and weather parameters became possible that will help to develop pest forecasting modules in future. 2. Human Resource Development - Capacity building through well structured training programmes conducted by crop based ICAR research institutes and SAUs have led to efficiency enhancement in extension officers functioning both at decision making level and grass root level. They have regained respect and confidence of farmers which appeared to be shattered there before. The contractual staffs that get trained through project will have the skills for becoming experts, in future which will create self employment. Apart from that through contractual staff there is employment generation at rural level. 3. Knowledge sharing - The knowledge imparted to the farmers about the insect biology, damage potential, proper management practices and significance of biological control will go a long way helping them for achieve sustainable system-productivity. Farmers also gained confidence about pest identification and strategies to deal with it. 4. Pest Management - Since inception of project despite unfavourable climatic conditions there was no outbreak of any major pests on the crops under project. The crop production and productivity is consistently on rise. Considering the area under the project the per hectare cost is less than ₹ 10.00 while looking to the production the cost involved is less than ₹ 1.00 per quintal of production. As such, the project is proved to be cost effective in terms of reduction in cost of cultivation. Since inception of project Govt. need not have to pay any assistance to farmers towards crop losses due to pest problems. In general the crop losses due to pest problems is 20-30% that were saved through project is the direct gain from project. 5. Research and Development – Based on the data under the project pest forecasting modules for Soybean are developed. Research paper is also published in International Conference on Soybean. The huge data generated through project opened opportunity for researchers for advance research in field of Entomology, Pathology and Meteorology.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The activities of pest scouts are monitored by the pest monitor regularly. Apart from that he also undertakes roving survey to ensure the observations recorded by pest scouts. GPS is used to record the longitude and altitude coordinates of the observation spots. This helps to ensure about the authenticity of data. Supervisory officers also undertake monitoring to verify the activity. Scientists from adjoining Krishi Vigyan Kendra also visit the project fields and verify the data authenticity. The software has facility of data tracking for data entry and advisory dissemination. That helps for monitoring of data entry by scouts and advisory issuance by the SAUs. GIS based pest mapping helps to monitor pest situation. The colour coding system in the software helps to understand the pest intensity level in particular area. Experts from stakeholder also visit the spots to verify the pest intensity and guide the farmers. Monthly progress reports are the tools for monitoring of physical and financial progress. Periodical meetings of the Project Monitoring Committee are conducted at Division Level. Steering Committee at State Level also takes periodical review of the project for current scenario and project upgradtion. NCIPM has carried out project evaluation in 2009-10. National Institute for Rural Development has carried out evaluation of RKVY projects in 2010. Agriculture Finance Corporation has carried out project evaluation in 2012 and submitted the report.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
There was no system existing earlier for scientific pest monitoring. In consultation with experts software was developed for proper on-line pest monitoring. While implementation of software it was noticed that in the pest monitoring format the pest infestation level was compared to predetermined Economic Threshold Injury Level (ETL) of each crop pest. Based on pest intensity, hot-spot areas were declared to undertake pesticide application on urgent basis. However, it was noticed that the ETL values of some crops are very small and hence comparing them with fractional figures of pest count averages sometimes not giving proper indication. Secondly, the difference between zero levels (no pest incidence) to ETL level is not getting monitored and hence there was likely hood that pest management strategies that could be adopted before the pest crossing ETL level are not being monitored. These issues were addressed in the CROPSAP steering committee with the experts and necessary modifications were carried out in the software by introducing the concept of nearing ETL. Bringing various institutes on common platform was another major challenge. By making them stakeholders under the project they were actively involved in project. All necessary facilities were extended to them to undertake the activity. Coordination of all stakeholders was sought through State Level Steering Committee. Paucity of manpower for regular surveillance was another key issue. Outsourcing of contractual manpower was made exclusively for the project. However, afterwards there were legal issues regarding contractual manpower about their permanency those were tackled with the guidance of legal experts. Necessary guidance from Labour Department was also sought for this purpose. Earlier pesticides supplied under schemes were on generalized basis that may not attract the proper attention. Under project pesticide are supplied on subsidy to focused areas of hot-spots and thereby maintaining the pest population below ETL.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
1. Organization Level – Scientific pest monitoring system was developed for regular on-line pest monitoring. Software developed is useful for maintaining data base for future use. The data generated is useful for early detection of pest problems and to combat the same. e-Pest surveillance has simplified the procedure for pest monitoring. Software helped experts to get analyzed data for issuance of location specific advisories. Trained manpower is developed through the project. Despite climatic variations crop production and productivity is maintained. Pest population is consistently maintained below ETL. Need based judicious use of pesticides helped eco-friendly pest management by maintaining ecological balance. Use of ICT proved very effective in perspective and prospective analysis of pest situation. SMS advisory to farmers, advisory broadcast at Village Panchayat boards, village meeting and mass media publicity has made significant improvement in delivery time to end-users. Project has helped in improving service efficiency of the staff. The project has redefined the Lab to Land concept in interactive mode. Participatory response of farmers has increased substantially. The project was found to be highly cost effective in terms of area coverage and production obtained. Proved effectiveness of the project has helped to extend the project to other crops in the State. Since inception of project there is no outbreak of any major pests on the crops under project. As such, Government need not have to pay any assistance to farmers. In general, the crop losses due to pest problems are to the extent of 20-30% that were saved resulting into higher production. Project proved to be extremely useful to Government to safeguard farmers interest by protecting the crop losses due to pest problems that will ultimately increase farmers income and add to state economy. 2. Stakeholders Level – The data generated through project is immensely useful for advance research. CRIDA has already evolved pest forecasting modules for Soybean. Researchers get feedback from field for conducting further studies. Time lag in dissemination of technology is bridged. 3. Farmer Level – The capacity building has improved the level of pest identification among farmers. Farmers could now understand scientific pest management concepts like IPM, ICM and ETL. Location specific scientific advisories helped them to undertake appropriate control measures. The wasteful expenditure on plant protection could be saved resulting into reducing cost of cultivation with increased net returns. Pesticide demand by farmers is now need based instead of dealer driven. Farmers now opt for eco-friendly pesticide molecules and make judicious use of pesticides. The knowledge imparted to farmers about pest biology, damage potential, proper management practices and significance of bio-control will go a long them helping them for achieving sustainable system productivity.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Initially the project was planned in 2009-10 for Cotton, Soybean, Pigeonpea and Gram crops covering 87.94 lakh hectare area. Considering its utility subsequently the project was extended to Rice crop in 2011. Further it was extended to Mango, Pomegranate and Banana crops. In 2013-14 the area under project has increased to 124.20 lakh hectares. In 2014-15, the project is further extended to sweet orange, mandarin orange and sapota crops. Since inception of project the area under project has increased by 1.5 times. Knowledge sharing and empowering farmers with latest plant protection technologies through speedy information communication are two significant aspects which ensure sustainability of the project. The project is successfully under implementation for past five years. State Govt. has taken policy decision to continue the project. As such, the project is proved to be self sustainable. Project initiative at national level is already replicated in Odisha and Gujrat states in 2012-13. Tripura and West Bengal states have planned to implement it. Officers from Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Andra Pradesh states already visited the state to study project for implementation in their states. Presentation of project was made in mid-term training of Indian Administrative Service officers from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh as best innovative practices. ICAR rolled out e-Pest surveillance based two research projects viz. National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture, National Information System for Pest Management. Govt. of India has also included e-Pest surveillance as regular activity under all Centrally Sponsored Programmes. VISION document 2050, by National Centre for Integrated Pest Management mentioned “CROPSAP as model project” to be replicated in the country. If such project is implemented across country there can be national grid to monitor pest and diseases cycles and the threats may be overcome. The project is now internationally acclaimed as evident as similar project is being implemented in Malavi (S.Africa) in collaboration with NCIPM (www.ncipm.org.in) and negotiations with several other African countries. As such, the project has crossed the state boundaries and international boundaries too. Chief Secretary of the state has advised Animal Husbandry and Health Departments to implement the projects on similar lines in their field. Wherever there is monitoring in respect of health aspects of human being, live stock, crop sciences similar projects can be effectively implemented with necessary modifications.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The lessons learnt through project are narrated below, 1. Every problem if dealt in right spirit has certain solutions that can be long term and effective. 2. Combined wisdom of experts and technical field staff can overcome the difficulties. 3. Use of ICT tools help in gathering information, analyzing it and find appropriate ways to resolve the issues in expeditious manner. 4. Collective approach by various agencies involved help to tackle the issue more effectively. 5. Mass awareness is very effective tool for transfer of technology. 6. Sharing of information and group approach are effective media for proper implementation and visible impact. 7. Widening the horizons with every feedback can make the initiative more sustainable. 8. Data base generation and maintenance is very useful for planning future strategies. 9. Timely interventions help to minimize losses and improve energy input. 10. Judicious use of pesticides can protect the crops with minimum disturbance to eco-system. Recommendations for the future – 1. Establishment of National Pest Management Grid helps to tackle the problem in more effective and sustainable way. 2. Involvement of pesticide industry in the project as stakeholder would certainly help for proper promotion of pesticide molecules. 3. In case, the international network of pest monitoring is established that may help for developing long-term research strategies and to counter the pest problems across the globe.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Commissionerate of Agriculture, Maharashtra State
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Umakant Dangat
Title:   Commissioner Agriculture  
Telephone/ Fax:   +91-20-26126150,26123648/+91-20-26127707
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   cropsap10@gmail.com  
Address:   Commissionerate of Agriculture, Maharashtra State, Central Building,
Postal Code:   411001
City:   Pune
State/Province:   Maharashtra
Country:  

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