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Bringing technology to the doorsteps of India’s smallholder farmers for climate resilience

Priti Kumar's picture

Photo by Nitish Kumar Singh“I walk through three farm plots of my fellow farmers every day to examine the crop growth and occurrences of pest attacks or crop failure. I send photo alerts via my smart phone to Cropin, which sends an advisory within a few minutes to remedy the problem, said Pratima Devi, a climate smart village resource professional in Manichak village in the Barachatti block of Gaya district in Bihar, India.
 
Cropin Technology Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a private software and mobile apps company, has developed digital applications to advise farmers on ways to achieve optimal harvests, depending on weather conditions, soil and other indicators. In less than a month, Pratima Devi completes a visit to all the farm plots in her village that are registered to get agro-advisories. “Women farmers appreciate my efforts and have started trusting my advice because they see a positive difference on their farms,” she adds.

Ramchandra Prasad Verma has the status of a master trainer of climate-smart village resource professionals in the same Barachatti block. He succinctly explains how data on weather parameters, such as rainfall, temperature and humidity, provided by the Automatic Weather Station (AWS), which was installed by another private Indian company, Skymet, helps farmers make smarter decisions in the village. “When the AWS shows temperatures of 35-40 degree Centigrade, farmers will wait for cooler temperatures before transplanting paddy mat nurseries into the field. Otherwise, there is a fear of losing crops in high temperatures”, said Verma. Earlier farmers relied on traditional wisdom alone, but now digital information can help them make faster and better decisions on the times of sowing and harvesting.

When Verma was a village resource professional, he had raised the maximum number of alerts in Bihar and received many advisories from Cropin on sowing, soil health, seed treatment, and weather forecasts that benefitted farmers. Over time, he developed skills to interpret technical advisories, train farmers to apply information on their fields, and interact with Cropin and Skymet professionals, which earned him the status of a master trainer.

Developing resilience in agriculture to regular weather shocks in the short-term and to climate change in the medium- to long-term is one of the biggest challenges facing Indian farmers today. Large-scale pilots are being implemented in four districts of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh to test the effectiveness of digital apps to generate climate resilient solutions for farming needs. This was made possible through a public-private partnership between the State Rural Livelihood Missions in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh with  Cropin Technology and Skymet. These pioneering digital tools are being developed and utilized as part of the Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change (SLACC) Project associated with  the Government of India’s National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP).

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Fast-forward progress: Leveraging tech to achieve the global goals
ITU
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) adopted in 2015 invite global action by 2030 in three overarching areas: end poverty, combat climate change and fight injustice and inequality. Today we see ICT as a powerful enabler for each of the 17 goals, and an essential catalyst in driving rapid transformation of nearly every aspect of our lives.
 
The Commitment to Development Index 2017
Center for Global Development
The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the world's richest countries on policies that affect more than five billion people living in poorer nations. Because development is about more than foreign aid, the Index covers seven distinct policy areas: Aid, Finance, Technology, Environment, Trade, Security, Migration. Why does Commitment to Development matter? In our integrated world, decisions made by rich countries about their own policies and behaviour have repercussions for people in developing nations. At the same time, greater prosperity and security in poorer countries benefit the whole world. They create new economic opportunities, increase innovation, and help reduce risks posed by public health, security, and economic crises. The Commitment to Development Index (CDI) celebrates countries whose policies benefit not only themselves, but also the development of others, and promote our common good. 

Competitive advantage in the knowledge economy

Iftikhar Mostafa's picture

 Chhor Sokunthea / World Bank“Knowledge economy” is a term popularized by Peter Drucker in his book The Age of Discontinuity. Over the past decade, knowledge-based policies, projects and programs have increasingly become drivers of the knowledge economy. Intra and inter-institutional collaboration for sharing knowledge and experience are essential for tapping into the enormous powerhouse of indigenous, national, regional and global knowledge. The timely application of such shared knowledge can help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the beginning of this summer, 60 task team leaders and investment officers from the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, regional development banks – African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank – and Rome-based UN Agencies – Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Program (WFP)– participated in a 3-day Knowledge Forum organized by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). The Forum was hosted by the FAO at its Headquarters in Rome. This was the third Knowledge Forum organized by GAFSP, a video was developed on the GAFSP 2017 Knowledge Forum.

The 2017 Knowledge Forum, one of GAFSP’s flagship events, brought together strategic and operational insights drawn from the Program’s Public and Private Sector Window projects. The Forum provided a robust and interactive platform to share tacit knowledge and experiences, including ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness of project delivery and increase impact on rural poor; to implement GAFSP’s new Monitoring and Evaluation Plan including Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES); and to implement the newly-designed GAFSP’s Operations Portal. The importance and benefits of partnering with civil society organizations like ActionAid, ROPPA (Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs de l"Afrique de l'Ouest) in Africa, and AFA (Asian Farmers Association) in Asia, in the design and implementation of GAFSP-supported projects were highlighted in the Forum.

It’s not about the ‘Left’ or ‘Right’, but about ‘power’

Suvojit Chattopadhyay's picture

 John Ferguson/OxfamIn our theatres of war, brought to us live on primetime television and on social media, we are presented with a rampant muscular ‘Right’ taking on an anti-national ‘Left’. But if you look closely, you will realise that the political and social conflicts that are being tagged as “Right vs Left” have almost nothing to do with the labels being used for them.

For instance, muscular nationalism today seems to belong to the ‘Right’, while all forms of dissent that makes the government see red denotes the ‘Left’, although this is not really the case if you consider Cold War-era communist regimes and their remnants. When it comes to society and culture, conservatives are ‘Right’ while progressives are the ‘Left. On matters relating to the economy though, free-marketers and innovators are on the ‘Right’, while those favouring state intervention are on the ‘Left’.

Essentially then, what we are witnessing around us is a pure play for power – power that extends into the lives of people. Researchers have studied ‘power’ extensively: Steven Lukes in his seminal work, Power: A Radical View, introduced us to a three-dimensional view of power: a continuum in ways one can exercise power, ranging from coercion to agenda-control to manipulation. Others, such as Lisa VeneKlasen and Valerie Miller, have termed the different forms Visible Power, Hidden Power and Invisible Power.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017
United Nations
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017 reviews progress made towards the 17 Goals in the second year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report is based on the latest available data. It highlights both gains and challenges as the international community moves towards full realization of the ambitions and principles espoused in the 2030 Agenda. While considerable progress has been made over the past decade across all areas of development, the pace of progress observed in previous years is insufficient to fully meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets by 2030. Time is therefore of the essence. Moreover, as the following pages show, progress has not always been equitable. Advancements have been uneven across regions, between the sexes, and among people of different ages, wealth and locales, including urban and rural dwellers. Faster and more inclusive progress is needed to accomplish the bold vision articulated in the 2030 Agenda. 

2017 Change Readiness Index
KPMG
The 2017 Change Readiness Index (CRI) indicates the capability of a country – its government, private and public enterprises, people and wider civil society – to anticipate, prepare for, manage, and respond to a wide range of change drivers, proactively cultivating the resulting opportunities and mitigating potential negative impacts. Examples of change include:

• shocks such as financial and social instability and natural disasters
• political and economic opportunities and risks such as technology, competition, and changes in government.

Since 2012, the CRI has evolved to become a key tool that provides reliable, independent, and robust information to support the work of governments, civil society institutions, businesses, and the international development community.

Education amidst Fragility, Conflict and Violence

Stephen Commins's picture

 Maria Fleischmann / World BankAccess to schooling and quality learning can be undermined by various manifestations of fragility, conflict and violence (FCV). The effect of different elements of FCV on education has both immediate and long lasting impacts on children’s learning, their well-being and their future prospects.
 
In different forms, FCV manifestations contribute to a denial of the right to education, whether from government failures, a violent ecosystem, and the treatment of displaced children and divisions within schools, attacks on schools or the language of instruction. This can include the ways in which teachers and principals treat lower castes, children with disabilities, or minority groups; the threat or real violence against girls; as well as how textbooks portray history and culture.  These issues exist globally, not just in ‘fragile states’.
 
Over the past two decades, greater attention has focused on the impact that long-term complex humanitarian emergencies, fragile states, and contexts of protracted crises on education. What has received less attention is the aggregate impact of various forms of negative conflict and intra-personal violence.
 
There are three entry points to consider for FCV: protracted crises; conflict as the basis of exclusion; direct and indirect forms of intra-personal violence. 

Climate smart agricultural practices in Haryana, India: The way forward & challenges

Abhilaksh Likhi's picture

 Scott Wallace/ World BankThe Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) defines Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) as an approach that helps to guide actions needed to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support development and ensure food security in a changing climate. Further, according to FAO, such an approach aims to tackle three main objectives: sustainably achieving agricultural productivity and incomes; adapting and building resilience to climate change; and reducing and/or removing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, where possible. Critical to achieving these objectives is a major shift in the way land, water, soil nutrients and genetic resources are managed with related shifts in local/national governance, legislation, policies, financial mechanisms and improving the farmers’ access to markets.

CSA, further, takes into consideration the diversity of social, economic and environmental contexts including agro-ecological zones/farming systems where it is to be applied. Implementation herein requires identification of integrated package of climate resilient technologies and practices for management of water, energy, land, crops, livestock, aquaculture etc at the farm level while considering the linkage between agricultural production and ecosystems services at the landscape level. Testing and applying different practices, experts opine, is important to expand the evidence base, determine which practices and extension methods are suitable in each context. This leads to identification of synergies and tradeoffs between food security, adaptation and mitigation.

CSA, thus, provides the broad enabling framework to help stakeholders, whether national or international, to identify sustainable agricultural strategies suitable to their local conditions. In this context, FAO actions in CSA e.g. policy structures, practices, investment and tools are a valuable repository for policymakers and administrators to learn about such agricultural strategies. This includes the critical baseline strategy to assess the past and future impact of climate variability on agriculture and consequent vulnerability of farming communities, especially, smallholder farmers. Needless to state that agriculture has the potential to mitigate between 5.5-6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (equivalent) annually (IPCC, 2007) with most of this potential in developing countries. Hence, to realize this potential, agricultural development efforts will have to support smallholder farmers for the uptake of climate smart practices at the farm and landscape levels and along the value chain, too.
 

Supporting creation of institutional platform of 45 million women for social and economic empowerment in rural India: The National Rural Livelihoods Mission

Parmesh Shah's picture
Jasmine cultivation

In the early morning at Dadar station in metropolitan Mumbai, a common sight is unloading of tons of jasmine and marigold flowers packed in jute sacks. Flowers come from Jawhar block located in the district of Palghar in Maharashtra. At the village the flowers are procured from each producer, weighed and packed in jute sacks. These are collected from the village bus stands and transported to Dadar in Mumbai by either bus or train. Floriculture has emerged as an alternative source of livelihood for small and marginal farmers in the region. Collective marketing has allowed small producers to aggregate and sell their flowers. Aggregation has enabled producers to realize better incomes through collective bargaining. About 3,500 women farmers have been mobilized as producer groups, and their annual turnover is expected to be around US $ 1 million in the next season.

Similarly, in four tribal districts (Koraput, Rayagada  Gajapati and Mayurbhanj) of Orissa in the eastern part of India, 6,300 women mango producers have been organized to facilitate creation of a Producers’ Company with annual turnover of US $260,000. They planted high-quality mango trees in their land with the help of Government’s horticulture department. They were provided training on pre-harvest, post-harvest management & market information and price discovery. The producer company was able to do local value addition through grading, sorting, packaging and loading through trucks. The producer company has been able to sell products to wholesale and high value channels like retail outlets and have become aggregators for large food retailers and companies. The producer company has helped the members to realize additional income of US $800 for each household. 

Mango value chain: sorting, grading and packaging

A blogger’s farewell

Sina Odugbemi's picture

May 03, 2010, the founding coalition of the World Bank- USC Summer Institute meets to discuss the program.

Back row from left to right: Michael X. Delli Carpini (Dean, UPenn Annenberg), USC Professor Patricia Riley, Sina Odugbemi, Ed Campos, Carola Weil, Helen Garcia, Saafir Rabb II, and Caby Verzosa.  Front row from left to right: Ernest James Wilson III (former Dean, USC Annenberg), Johanna Martinsson, and Anne-Katrin Arnold.

Because I depart the World Bank at the end of this month (June 2017) and will, thereafter, not be editing this blog or contributing to it, I want to seize the opportunity of this final blog post to do a number of things.

First, I want to thank all those who have contributed to the blog under my editorship since we started it in 2008. Though powerful pipes multiply in this digital age content remains king. Our contributors have provided rich, varied, and sometimes beguiling content over the years. I want to thank you, one and all. I particularly want to thank those whose contributions I had to have reworked because of the peculiar challenges of publishing on the blogging platform of an institution that is an intergovernmental cooperative. Some contributors were put off by the constraints but most understood and stayed. Many thanks.

Second, I want to thank our readers all over the world. When you start a blog in this age of volubility you never know what will happen. It is like a man in a bazaar starting a song that needs a chorus. Will anyone out there join in? Will voices and verses be added to the song? You never know. But I am happy to report that the response to the blog has been stellar. Readership has been wide and keen and argumentative. Contributions to the blog have turned up in several books, journal articles, and global publications in different languages. My attitude has been that so long as the source is acknowledged those who want to can make free use of the content. The blog has been one of the most successful ones on the World Bank blogging platform. Above all, it has been influential. And that is due to our readers. Again, many thanks.

Third, I want to thank the colleagues who have worked on the blog over the years. The initial idea was not mine at all but Johanna Martinson’s. Since then others have worked on the blog with great diligence and dedication. You can figure out their names by the intensity of their contributions. I want to thank them all. As you can imagine, a lot goes on behind the scenes if a blog is going to be successful. You have to try to post regularly. You have to promote it, for example, by tweeting the content regularly. You have to research and post interesting features, including videos. I have been fortunate to have worked with some truly brilliant colleagues who have done their best to create and nurture a People, Spaces, Deliberation community, and one that is truly global.

Finally, a closing reflection. When I joined the World Bank in 2006, it was to head a trust-funded program: The Communication for Governance and Accountability Program (COMMGAP). The blog was one of its initiatives that survived beyond the five-year duration of the Program. Another is the World Bank-Annenberg Summer Institute in Reform Communication: Leadership, Strategy and Stakeholder Alignment. The executive course is now in its seventh (7th) year. It is going on as I write, and I have just returned from Los Angeles where I led four sessions in the first week of the course.

As with the entire COMMGAP Program, this blog has been dedicated to the proposition that it is important to explore the interaction among public opinion, governance and the public sphere, and that this interaction has implications for pro-poor social and political change. Through publications, events, operational interventions and argumentation, we have tried to show that an open and inclusive public sphere is an essential element of good and accountable governance. And that it is wise never to trust leaders who close public spaces even if they appear to be promoting economic growth that alleviates poverty in the short term. We have also tried to show that communication approaches and techniques are fundamental if you want to implement reforms and high risk projects successfully. We have argued that, in spite of the incentives and preferences of technocrats, development initiatives that are implemented without skillful and deliberate stakeholder engagement will likely run into all manner of trouble:  costly delays, truculent opposition, and, very often, failure. Intelligent project implementers in the private sector now accept this. They refer to the necessity of stakeholder alignment behind major projects as securing the social license to operate.

As I leave, the one development that I am most heartened by is that there is now a small but growing global community of practice studying and promoting “politically smart” implementation of reforms and complex development initiatives. That community acknowledges the peculiar incentives of bureaucrats in development agencies and seeks to support change agents in their own environments directly. I am, of course, extremely disheartened by the growing number of countries where public spaces are being constrained or closed.  Lesson: in so many contexts, including the most unexpected ones, there is a lot more work to be done.

Farewell then.

Media (R)evolutions: What’s the potential of mobile payments?

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's. 

There is a lot of discussion right now about mobile payments and its potential in rural and urban communities. Who uses these services and how will this impact various key markets?

According to the latest Mobile Payments report by the GlobalWebIndex, the next wave of growth in mobile payments will be in rural areas. Defined as the financial transactions performed via mobile devices, mobile payments may offer solutions to traditional methods of delivering financial services. Currently 7 in 10 mobile payment users live in urban environments.
 

Globally, there are about 2 billion adults without access to a basic bank account. Although this is a 20 percent decrease from 2.5 billion adults in 2011, it’s still a high number. Regardless of barriers of opening a bank account (lack of enough money, distance to the nearest financial service provider, lack of proper documentation papers, etc..), one thing is clear: traditional financial services are not meeting the needs of the low income users. Will mobile payments fill this gap?

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