Farmers to get SMS alerts on extreme weather from today

The agriculture ministry has tied up with leading cellular operators to send decision-critical information to farmers through SMS

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. The special service would formally be launched on Thursday.

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,” an agriculture ministry official told FE. The official said 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.

As part of agricultural extension initiative, under the government’s National e-Governance Plan – Agriculture (NeGP-A), various modes of information dissemination to farmers through internet, touch screen kiosks, agri-clinics, private kiosks, common service centres, Kisan Call Centres, etc., have been provided at the present.

As per the agriculture ministry official, at present there are 38 crore mobile phone connections in rural areas where internet penetration is low.

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