| 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.