Access to data by all is better than simple provision of advisories and the information that goes to farmers must be credible and understandable, said Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT during a virtual National Consultation on Data4Policy for Climate Resilient Agriculture in India.
Hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Telangana Government, the panel discussion was at the outset of a Digital Public Good on Climate Resilient Agriculture: Data in Climate Resilient Agriculture (DiCRA), an open-source platform. Using data insights from the platform at the farm level, a suite of knowledge products developed by various partner organizations was released during the program. The platform was developed by UNDP in partnership with the Government of Telangana, the Rockefeller Foundation, ICRISAT, Universiteit Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS), Netherlands, Zero Hunger Lab, Netherlands and Tilburg University.
“The platform has garnered interest from eight countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America for scale-up, to make their farms resilient. India’s G20 presidency offers a unique opportunity to scale up such platforms, to strengthen climate resilience from multiple angles,” said Ms Shoko Nodo, Resident Representative, UNDP India.
It is estimated that climate change reduces annual agricultural incomes in India by 15-18%, adversely impacting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. It is also estimated that in absence of any adaptation of climate-resilient practices by farmers and policy changes, farm incomes will decrease by 12% on average in the coming years.
“We need to have local level data on two key aspects: effects of climate change on different production choices and agricultural practices in different agro-climatic zones. In most cases, whenever we are making any central scheme related to climate change, it is based on agri-data or perceptions. We do not have information on specifics at disaggregate levels,” said Mr Ramesh Chand, member, NITI Aayog, appealing to UN agencies to take the lead in framing mechanisms on data collection and data analysis at local levels.
Mr Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary, Information Technology, Government of Telangana said that the State Government is working on two major initiatives – agriculture data management policy framework that will define key aspects required for creating a trusted data sharing process and an agriculture data exchange that will act as a layer of reliability.
Speaking of developing a data foundation for agriculture in the next phase in India, Mr Parmesh Shah, Global Lead for Data-Driven Digital Agriculture, The World Bank said that they would not invest in any agriculture project without making significant investments in foundational data.
“Every farmer considers so many data points on deciding what to plant, how much to water and so on. Every farmer has data, but many decisions are taken intuitively without access to digital tools. If farmers contribute to the development of new technology by sharing their constraints, they will readily adapt to the technologies developed,” said Dr Hughes.
The program was moderated by Mr Amit Kumar, Head of Inclusive Growth, UNDP in India and had other panellists including Mr CSR Murthy, Chief General Manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD); Mr Jeediguntla Satyanarayana, Chief Advisor, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum; Ms Purvi Mehta, Asia Lead, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Dr Giriraj Amarnath, Principal Researcher, Disaster Risk Management and Climate Resilience, International Water Management Institute (IWMI).