A stitch in time saves nine
This issue of i4d magazine on agriculture and water could not have been more appropriate given the looming meteorological drought in India that has already affected about nine states. The need for macro and micro level readjustments and such analysis to reach the extension workers and farmers are becoming more and more critical.
Research organisations and international agencies have always valued the importance of information databases and have methodically archived research and development findings. However, it is only in the last few years that the thrust has shifted to make local information relevant and applicable for the communities and farmers for whom well-informed decision making would mean better cropping decisions and management of the scarce resources like water and seed stocks.
There are numerous organisations, which are involved, in collecting information on water and agriculture. The research includes information collection on plethora of issues such as soils, crops, insects, irrigation mechanisms, weather etc. But, in spite of the concerted efforts to disseminate this information among the farmers at large, it is still rare to find this valuable information reaching the farmers. If it reaches there, it is often too late.
The challenge for an agrarian country like India is to convert the excellent research knowledge and infrastructure to one that is of value to the people. The “lab to land” concept in the field of ICT is becoming a reality with several innovative initiatives, some of which are presented in this issue. Many of the authors have made the critical point that the issues are not only about technology but also about providing locally relevant information, packaged in a manner that is easily comprehended by the local farmers and users of the resources.
It would be a shame if the revolution in ICTs cannot bring improvement in the lives of the rural community that is primarily dependent on water and agriculture to make timely and adaptive decisions. We look forward to learning about other projects in this field, and would very much like our readers to contribute news and contacts about other useful projects, so that we can collectively share this knowledge for rural communities to use.