Taking a cue from the way chess was played to make strategic decisions, the Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has developed a mobile gaming app called “MRIDA” that helps small farmers strategise climate-smart agricultural management practices to enhance soil carbon, which in turn is expected to enhance yield and build resilience.
The name MRIDA — short for Managing Resources for Integrated Development of Agriculture — has etymological ties to the word for “soil” in Hindi.
It was reportedly developed as part of a research project funded by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) to conduct a detailed and rigorous assessment of agricultural management practices for their potential to sequester carbon.
“We are bringing user-friendly technology that not only educates farmers on soil conservation but also captures farmers’ attitudes to soil management practices in the face of climate change, providing valuable insights to policymakers and governments,” said Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, said in a statement.
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What went into the app’s development
To develop the app, a team of scientists undertook a modelling study from 2020 to 2022 and developed a game that facilitates behavioural change for adopting climate-smart agriculture practices.
The game was developed in collaboration with partner Vasudhaika Software Private Limited.
The app is expected to “sensitise farmers on four key elements — fertiliser, crop selection, biochar application, and irrigation”, said Dr ML Jat, Global Research Program Director, Resilient Farm and Food Systems, ICRISAT.
“They can make their selections based on the season and ascertain organic carbon and yield output. The recommendations will help them make better on-farm decisions,” he added.
The app is currently based on a modelling study conducted in five districts of Maharashtra (Jalna, Dhule, Ahmednagar, Amravati, and Yavatmal) and eight districts of Odisha (Angul, Bolangir, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Kalahandi, Kendujhar, Nuapada, and Sundegarh).
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The app will reportedly enable scientists to collect data to understand the decision triggers among farmers.
“Indiscriminate use of fertilisers and other agro-chemicals deteriorates soil health and increases environmental footprints. This app will encourage farmers to explore and apply regenerative agriculture practices and focus on yield output, soil carbon sequestration, and climate change mitigation. It will also educate farmers on carbon credits,” said Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General-Research, ICRISAT.
Apart from English, the app is also being developed in Marathi, and is available on Google Play Store.