Agriculture

Weather alert service Nowcast launched

Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh today launched Insurance Portal and Weather alert service Nowcast
Weather alert service Nowcast launched

With the launch of ICT based services by the Agriculture Ministry, farmers to get SMS alerts on extreme weather from today. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that a number of applications which have been completed and passed through all the required checks and audits are now ready for nationwide roll-out.

“Through the special service titled ‘Nowcast’, the farmers living in the 50-km radius of IMD’s weather stations would get SMS alerts on thunderstorm, squall, hailstorm, etc., within minutes after the information is generated by the Met department,” he told newsmen while launching the service. A new web-based portal “Crop Insurance” has also been launched.

The Mission Mode Project in Agriculture under National e-Governance Plan (NeGP-A) aims to achieve rapid development of agriculture in India through the use of ICT by ensuring timely access to agriculture related information for the farmers of the country. Twelve clusters of services including Information on inputs; Soil Health; Good Agricultural Practices; Weather; Livestock, Fisheries: Marketing: Scheme Information; Training etc. have been identified and development of Web based applications on various components of these services is being undertaken before their roll out in the States with required local customization.

Farmers staying near India Meteorological Department’s 146 weather stations spread across the country would henceforth get instant alerts on possible extreme weather conditions on their mobile phones.

Through the special service titled ‘Nowcast’, the farmers living in the 50-km radius of IMD’s weather stations would get SMS alerts on thunderstorm, squall, hailstorm, etc., within minutes after the information is generated by the Met department.

Earlier IMD’s predictions were uploaded on its website which farmers used to find difficult to access due to lack of internet connectivity in many of these remote locations where the Met department has AgroMet Field Units.

Now, the data generated by IMD’s state-of-the-art Doppler radars, which have been deployed in 17 locations across the country to track extreme weather phenomenon, would be instantly transmitted to agriculture ministry’s mKisan portal.

“After getting alerts from the IMD, the data would be transmitted through an SMS from dedicated portal to the farmers located in the affected areas or locations,” Singh said, adding, the farmers would get SMS in their local languages.

Launched in 2013, the IT-enabled advisory service of the agriculture ministry, mKisan portal, is at present offering region-specific and crop-specific information to farmers on their mobile phones, irrespective of the types of handsets.

The agriculture ministry has tied up with leading cellular operators — BSNL, Bharti Airtel, Idea, Tata Docomo and Vodafone — to send decision-critical information to farmers (through SMS) who are deprived of easy access to relevant information relating to weather pattern, agricultural commodities prices, etc. The farmers need to pay a nominal monthly fee for getting host of information on their phones.

Urgent need for an Insurance Portal enabling speedy processing farmers’ queries on insurance and also their application for Agricultural Insurance cover has been felt in the wake of recent adverse weather conditions in some parts of the country and losses suffered by farmers due to their non-awareness about insuring their crops. As per the prevailing provisions farmers can insure their crops under 3 schemes viz. National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS), Modified National Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) and Weather based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS). Besides this, Coconut Palm Insurance Scheme (CPIS) also is applicable in some parts of the country. However, statistics of the year 2014-15 shows that only about 20 percent gross cropped area was insured. Major reasons behind such low coverage inter alia include ignorance among farmers about insurance products and procedure.

The Ministry says that a beginning was made in the year 2012 by having an insurance calculator on the farmers’ portal (www.farmer.gov.in). Unfortunately, not much headway could be made because very small time window existed in most States for data entry to be completed well in time before the cut-off date. Therefore, a new web-based Portal has been developed to enter essential information under 3 major schemes viz. NAIS, MNAIS and WBCIS in an expeditious, accurate and non-repetitive manner.

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