ICTs for Agriculture Knowledge Management (AKM) in India L.B. Hugar*, V.C. Patil**, P. Priya, A. Prabhuraj, V. Balaji and N.T.

Globally, the interaction between the ICT-for-RD sector and ICT-in-agriculture have been weak and inadequate. The presence of expert-validated information on agricultural production and processing is highly limited in the digital realm. The National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) has supported a Consortium project on the use of ICTs in developing a multimedia data base of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for few important crops and provide solutions to farmers’ problems. Through the activities of the Consortium, leading professionals in agriculture and ICT sectors have developed key new products and platforms; these form the nucleus of a much larger collaborative effort that will occur globally. The lead institutions developed the practice of a “virtual KVK’ that brings the reach and openness of ICT4RD approaches together with the rich and relevant domain knowledge in agriculture. It does so by bringing closer tablet computers, mobile devices, texting gateways and standard web and voice interfaces. Salient findings from the work carried out so far in the consortium mode by UASD and UASR are briefly presented here. Useful and relevant bilingual multimedia content on important crops such as paddy, cotton, pigeon pea and chick pea was developed in collaboration with IIT Kanpur and IIITM, Kerala by using their web platforms namely Agropedia indica and AKMIndia, respectively. A very popular aAQUA portal developed by IIT, Mumbai was used to communicate answers by the scientists. _______________________________________________________________________
* : Dr. L. B. Hugar, Dean (Agri.), College of Agriculture, UAS, Raichur, Karnataka, India (lbhugar@gmail.com) ** : Dr. V. C. Patil, Chair Professor, Precision Agriculture Research Chair, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (vcpatiluasd@gmail.com)

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Agropedia indica portal consists of Knowledge Models (KMs), multimedia content namely gyan dhara (certified content) as well as janagyan (emergent knowledge) on paddy, cotton, pigeon pea and chick pea. The KMs are the structural representation of knowledge by using symbols to represent pieces of knowledge and relationships between them, which can be used to connect seamlessly to the knowledge base in Agropedia using semantic tools. Certified content on paddy, cotton, pigeonpea and chickpea consisted of 476 posts on various concepts from seed to seed. The AKMIndia portal mainly contains sub windows such as online fertilizer recommendation system (OFRS), Web GIS based weather information, Web GIS based soil nutrient advisory system and online video channels. In Karnataka, OFRS is becoming popular among farming community since it acts as a decision making tool. As on now there are 1243 members registered. Reports on 26 crops were sent to 1160 farmers residing in 38 talukas of 17 districts in Karnataka state. In a typical aAQUA thread, a farmer submits a problem, and agriculture experts or other farmers provide solutions. aAQUA has 1729 posts and about 1418 threads of questions covering 2500 members from Karnataka state. Similarly, under crop recommendation forum, there are 345 posts and 329 threads under UAS Dharwad/Raichur recommendation forum. Mobile texting is another important area where in free crop tips were sent to around 10000 farmers. A series of 44 training and workshop sessions on ‘Use of ICTs in Agriculture’ have so far been held. Still a very long way to go!. Key Words: Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), Agriculture, Web portals, Multimedia content.

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INTRODUCTION India is one of the biggest and strongest Agro-based nations in the world. In spite of alarming increase in the population, it has managed self sufficiency in Agriculture, thanks to green revolution and intensive agriculture. However, looking into the total area under agriculture proportion achievements made in production and productivity so far is far below the average when compared to other countries. One of the constraints attributed was lack of knowledge input developed by agricultural universities, extension-centres and businesses reaching the small and marginal farmers who made bulk of the nation’s agriculture population. Hence farmers are deprived of latest available technology at right time leading to considerable economic loss. Further, with lack of timely help a huge gap is formed between farmer and agriculture scientist involved in developing need based technologies. However, innovative Information Communication Technology (ICT), can play a major role in bridging this gap. Now-a-days, many innovative agriculture extension tools and farmer outreach programs are available to solve problems of Indian farmers. At present, the conventional agricultural extension and farmer-outreach programs face major challenges such as quick and timely outreach, solutions tailored to needs of individual farmers and cost effective outreach. To overcome these challenges, the ICT which includes the internet and mobile networks has the potential to provide agroinformation services that are (i) affordable, (ii) relevant (timely and customized), (iii) searchable and (iv) up to date. Though tele-centers are beginning to dot the Indian rural landscape [1] [2], they lack agro-content in local language and quick delivery of the information that is of immediate use to them. Keeping these factors and the needs of Indian farmers in mind, a project 'Redesigning the farmer-extension-agricultural research/education continuum in India with ICT mediated Knowledge Management' has been implemented under the aegis of the World Bank funded National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) (Component-I) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The intent is to develop highly This paper was submitted for eINDIA 2010 conference Page 3

integrated knowledge management approaches between agricultural research, education and extension services. The role of ICT to enhance food security and agricultural livelihoods are widely recognized and discussed world over. This includes the use of computers, internet, geographical information systems, mobile phones, as well as traditional media such as radio or TV [4]. The NAIP’s approach to knowledge management involves the development of highly integrated approaches between agricultural research and education sectors with ICT for development area such as Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K), U.P., Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), Maharashtra, Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala (IIITM-K) as consortium partners have worked together to organize a national pilot project. The main project was divided into 6 sub-projects to the consortium partners. University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Raichur, Karnataka is operating one of the sub-projects entitled “Digitization of Agricultural Information for Knowledge Management System, its delivery and Impact Assessment” with the following objectives: • • • • • Providing agricultural information content for incorporation into the knowledge organization systems developed by IIT-Bombay, IIT- Kanpur and IIITM-Kerala. Collaborate in developing information structure for semantic / ontological search engines. Strengthening and modernization of the selected KVKs / ARS to develop knowledge interface between farmers and information resources at SAUs. Delivery of the developed knowledge resources / tools through KVKs / ARS. Assessment of the impact of the KM Resources / Tools on the functioning and effectiveness of the KVKs /ARS. MATERIAL AND METHODS The NAIP-ICT project is operating at UAS, Dharwad/Raichur, Karnataka since 2008. The project is operating under consortium mode with International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, Hyderabad as consortium leader. UAS, Dharwad/Raichur, Karnataka, Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and This paper was submitted for eINDIA 2010 conference Page 4

Technology (GBPUAT), Pantnagar, Uttaranchal, IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Bombay, IIITM-Kerala and National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), Rajendranagar, Hyderabad as Consortium partners. Inturn, UAS Dharwad/Raichur included agricultural scientists of various capacities for providing agricultural information content and its incorporation into the knowledge organization systems and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs)/ Extension Education Units (EEUs) for the delivery of developed knowledge resources/tools. Under this project, IIT-B, IIT-K and IIITM-K individually developed knowledge organization systems such as aAQUA, Agropedia and AKMIndia respectively. aAQUA (almost All QUestions Answered) is an online multilingual, multimedia Agricultural portal for disseminating information from and to the grassroots of the Indian agricultural community [2]. In a typical aAQUA thread, a farmer submits a problem, and an agriculture expert provides solutions. In this portal users can post a question on aAQUA site through the web site (www.aaqua.org) or via mobile texting by registering free of cost on the site. In this free portal apart from farmers anybody can browse the forum. The registering profile includes details such as name, address, contact details, crops grown etc. After registration and login, questions can be asked in a separate editor in any of the five languages such as English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and Telugu Assuming the question is clear and complete; agri-experts provide a detailed answer and attach relevant images or documents, if necessary. If the question is incomplete, the agriexpert asks the user to clarify the problem. To answer farmers’ queries, about 24 (11 from UAS, Dharwad and 13 from UAS, Raichur) scientists were involved from various disciplines of Agricultural sciences (Crop production, Crop protection, Agricultural Economics and Marketing) as experts. The recent development in aAQUA is sending crop tips through short message service (SMS) to mobile phones. Nearly 10,000 farmers’ contact numbers were collected and categorized based on region and crop in order to send region and crop specific agro-information tips. Apart from this various crop recommendations, crop diagnosis via images in English and Kannada, audio clips and video clips, etc. were uploaded to the digital library of aAQUA.

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IIT-Kanpur developed a portal called Agropedia (www.agropedia.in) with an objective to make create repository of Agriculture Knowledge which contains universal knowledge models and multilingual crop content with appropriate interfaces. These universal knowledge models help in mapping the knowledge and tagging content of this site so that the information is semantically searchable. Initially, agropedia started by developing crop content on rice, wheat, chickpea, green pea, pigeon pea, sorghum, groundnut, litchi, and sugarcane of the Indian agricultural domain with the help of UAS Dharwad/Raichur and GBPUAT . The mandate of UAS, Dharwad/Raichur is to develop region specific bilingual (Kannada and English) multimedia (text, images, graphic, audio and video) content for rice, cotton, pigeonpea and chickpea and added to ‘Library content’ of the ‘Extension material’. The extension material also contains other categories such as ‘Crop Calendar’ and 'Do’s and Don'ts' on selected crops. UAS, Dharwad/Raichur also utilized interaction space available in agropedia i.e., agrowiki and agroblog for providing agricultural information and to comment on existing content or information. AKMIndia (www.akmindia.net) portal developed by IIIM-K mainly focus web based Decision Support Systems (DSS) such as Online Fertilizer Recommendation System (OFRS), weather information and forecasting and soil nutrient information. OFRS included fertilizer recommendations for 26 agricultural and horticultural crops covering 10 agro-climatic zones of Karnataka state. The web enabled GIS map has a weather location layer represented as points showing various talukas of all the 33 districts of Karnataka State. On clicking these points, the weather conditions of the respective talukas are pulled dynamically from fallingrain genomics service. Currently, the weather information includes three parameters, viz. Temperature, Cloud Cover and Precipitation (rainfall). The soil micro nutrients pertaining to Dharward district of Karnataka, such as Boron, Zinc, Sulphur, Electrical Conductivity, pH, Potassium, Olsens Phosphorus and Organic Carbon are represented as individual GIS layers that are coloured according to low, medium and high availability levels. The soil micronutrients data was ICRISAT.

Results and Discussion
Typically, questions come from either farmers or from agri- professionals seeking industrial, financial, or legal advice. This paper was submitted for eINDIA 2010 conference Page 6


In 13 months of its operation, aAQUA has 2500 members (Fig. 1) 1418 threads (Fig. 2) and 1729 posts. Of the total members registered from Karnataka State majority of them are from Northern Districts of Karnataka. Most of the questions from farmers were related to

plant protection aspects of field and horticultural crops. The average response time for answering a query was from 5 minutes to 24 hours. Right now farmers are posting questions both in English and Kannada. Apart from farmers, the representatives of farmers organizations, small and medium-sized agribusinesses, and larger agro-based companies are also posting their queries. They are posting queries in crop, animal and other forums. Since it is an open access portal any agricultural expert such as scientist, Officers of the department, Progressive farmers, agri market executives etc. can provide related agri-information on real time basis to the needy farmers. Another major contribution of UAS, Dharwad/Raichur to aAQUA portal was providing crop recommendations in bilingual languages. There were about 345 posts and 329 threads under UAS Dharwad/Raichur recommendation forum (Table 1). Around 250 audio clips on 27 crops is available which runs from 15 to 45 seconds concentrating on management practices for pest and disease of crops. aAQUA simultaneously addresses two major challenges in farmer outreach programs – geographic reach and customized delivery [2]. In this context, now we have started using mobile phone technology to reach large number of farmers. We have maintained a database (name, address, mobile number and crops grown) of 10,000 farmers. As on date nearly 250 crop tips (Fig. 3) have been sent to 10,000 farmers. In addition to the crop tips, information on allied agricultural subjects such as dairy, fisheries and ongoing agriculture related activities in the university were also sent. There is a significant impact in the farming community due to tips on agriculture and allied subjects which could be assessed through the positive feed back from few of the farmers. Infact, some of the farmers insisted to include weather forecasting information in the crop tips. However, quantification of the benefit obtained in terms of economic yield needs to be assessed through feed back survey. Apart from this the registered farmers are also provided with contact number of the scientists whom they can contact over mobile This paper was submitted for eINDIA 2010 conference Page 7

phones to get answer to their specific problem. On an average each scientist gets around 5-6 phone calls from the farmers seeking the solution for their problems. The library of aAQUA contains collection on crop diseases and pests called ‘Crop Doctor’ which aims at providing crop diagnostics via images. The current collection contains around 250 images of pest and disease of 19 crops covering cereals, pulses, oil seeds, commercial crops etc. with detailed information on their symptoms, causal organism, preventive and curative measures. Using this crop doctor any one can obtain the management strategy against pest and disease incidence on crops. One of the new features in aAQUA is expert bulletin boarding which the crop information will be displayed continuously.


This is an another open access portal where in scientists, researchers, teachers, students, extension workers, farmers, to traders and businessmen, can interact with each other. Using state of the art practices and techniques of the semantic web, agropedia is a platform where both specialists in the agriculture research and education domain can make lasting contributions to the vast knowledge base [3]. UAS, Dhawrad/Raichur is involved in contributing content towards the gyan dhara (certified content) as well as janagyan (emergent knowledge). The bilingual (English and Kannada) crop content in the form of text, images, graphs etc. on paddy, cotton, pigeonpea and chickpea were added to gyan dhara (Table 2). The semantic technology in agropedia was implemented using 'Knowledge Models' which formed the basis of cataloging. Knowledge models, formulated by domain experts have developed linkings among different concepts in agriculture through simple relationships. These models enabled agropedia to produce a better search results set as all the documents, images and videos come with appropriate live tags attached which make them visible and searchable [3]. The multimedia content developed for mandate crops in bilingual language is uploaded in Agropedia portal which can accessed by following link http://agropedia.iitk.ac.in/?q=category/user-created-tags/clip&page=1 (Fig. 4a and 4b).

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The portal mainly contains sub windows such as online fertilizer recommendation systems (OFRS), Web GIS based weather information, Web GIS based soil nutrient advisory system and online video channels. Till now there are 1243 farmers from 38 talukas of 17 districts in Karnataka are registered and around 1160 fertilizer recommendation reports (Fig. 5) on 26 crops are generated. This indicates that OFRS is becoming more popular among farming community. Another important feature of this OFRS is that it also provides cost of the fertilizer (Fig. 5a) and method of application (Fig. 5b). Availability of dynamic weather information is very crucial for efficient planning and decision-making in agriculture. Thus the web GIS technology on online weather forecasting system facilitated dissemination of weather forecast for next 6 days upto taluka level of Karnataka state (Fig. 6). This was achieved through virtually integrating dynamic information from multiple sources. This has facilitated real time decision support systems to crop advisory and safety. Through the Web GIS based soil nutrient advisory system, the farmers and extension officers are getting detailed information on micro level scientific soil properties of Dharward district (Fig. 7) based on which location specific fertilizer recommendation can be generated.

4. Social Networking
The efficiency of the portals developed such as aAQUA , Agropedia and AKMIndia can be improved through creating awareness in the scientists, Officers of the departments and outreaching the farming community with the help of extension services like university KVKs and EEUs, RSKs, NGOs and progressive farmers through social networking. Training/workshop is one essential area, without which these services could be really ineffective. Keeping this in mind, UAS, Dharwad/Raichur signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Indian Society of Agricultural Information Technology This paper was submitted for eINDIA 2010 conference Page 9

(INSAIT), Dharwad to provide consultancy services to progressive farmers, NGOs, Department officers etc. So far UAS Dharwad/Raichur in association with IITs has conducted 44 workshops and hands on training on use of above portals. The feed back of the trainees on the use of three portals can be accessed in http://aaqua.persistent.co.in/aaqua/forum/listthreads?forum=362. With all these said and done, the project has long way to go in fulfilling the primary objectives of brining agricultural information to the doorstep of each and every farmer and revolutionizing agriculture through ICT.

REFERENCES: [1] A. Bahuman, S. Inamdar, R. Swami and K. Ramamritham, “Robust Network for Rural Areas: study of two of Nlogue’s ICT projects (in Maharashtra) and a compilation of the weakest links in their services and IIT Bombay’s efforts in addressing them.” http://www.dil.iitb.ac.in/docs/Interim%20Report-Feb%202005-IITBombay. pdf [2] K. Ramamritham, A. Bahuman, S. Duttagupta, C. Bahuman, S. Balasundaram, Innovative ICT Tools for Information Provision in Agricultural Extension (December 2005) http://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/~krithi/papers/ICTD2006.pdf [3] R. Sarkar, T. V. Prabhakar and M. B. Bhatia, Agropedia Revolutionizing Indian Agriculture http://www.i4donline.net/articles/current-article.asp? Title=Agropedia&articleid=2358&typ=Features [4] S. Jac, B. Wietse and N. Frans, 2007, How ICT can make a difference in agricultural livelihoods. International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD).

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Fig. 1: Pie chart showing the number of online registered members from different states in aAQUA portal

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Fig. 2: Pie chart showing the number of questions from different states in aAQUA portal

Fig 3: Sample crop tip in mobile phone This paper was submitted for eINDIA 2010 conference Page 12

Fig. 4a: Online video clip on pest management in Agropedia portal (Kannada)

Fig. 4b: Online video clip on machine transplanting in paddy in Agropedia portal (English) This paper was submitted for eINDIA 2010 conference Page 13

Fig.5: A sample OFRS report generated in AKMIndia portal

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(b) Fig.5a and 5b: Showing the cost of the fertilizer as well as method of application

Fig 6: Web GIS based weather information for Karnataka state

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Fig 7: Web GIS based soil nutrient information of Dharwad district

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Table 1: List showing the total number of threads and posts under UAS Dharwad/Raichur recommendations forum in aAQUA portal

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Table 2: Showing the total number of posts from UAS Dharwad/Raichur to Agropedia portal

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