Google And Wadhwani AI Join Hands To Protect Cotton Crops

Google And Wadhwani AI Join Hands To Protect Cotton Crops

Indian non-profit startup Wadhwani AI’s has teamed up with Google’s philanthropic arm in its first venture in Asia – Protecting cotton crops with the help of CottonAce app! Let’s see how this will help improve the startup’s AI-powered farm decision support system, and protect farmer’s livelihood.

Crux of the Matter

Pests Tormenting Cotton Crops
About 6 million farmers cultivate cotton which is India’s third-largest agricultural product after rice and wheat. In 2017, Maharashtra’s 50% cotton crop was destroyed by pests.

Attack Of The Pink Bollworm!
Also called moth larva, it decimates 20% to 30% of cotton crops in an average year. Hard to detect, these insects lay their eggs on the cotton bolls, or seed capsules, and the larvae eats the seeds and damage the fibers.

What’s Wadhwani AI?
It’s a Mumbai based independent, non-profit research institute. Started in 2018, it is dedicated to developing Artificial intelligence solutions for social good.

Joint Venture With Google
To improve Wadhwani’s “AI-powered farm decision support system”, an app which uses AI to identify the pests eating crops. Previously, the trajectory of the infestation was predicted and remedy advice is taken from agricultural experts, which was time-consuming.

‘CottonAce’ To The Rescue!

  • Using this app, farmers can take a photo of a pest trap containing the bugs.
  • The app verifies if the image is authentic, and then classifies and counts the pests. 
  • Trained on 30,000 images, the AI model predicts “the next generation of eggs and larvae before they become an infestation”.

Instant Advice By AI
The AI gives app users quick advice on how to counter the incoming infestation. 

Each geographic community tends to have “lead farmers,” who can talk about CottonAce in village meetings. 

Dhruvin Vora, Seniou product manager at Wadhwani AI

What’s More?
If pesticide is needed, the app will teach farmers to spray considerately instead of indiscriminate use, which damages soil quality and the farmers’ health. For less serious infestations, organic products might be suggested like neem oil.

Positive Results Of Using CottonAce
Last year, CottonAce pilots were deployed in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Telangana. As per an independent assessment, farmers who followed the app’s advice experienced 26.5% increase in profit margins and 38% decrease in pesticide costs.

“Deeply Personal” Initiative, Says Google CEO
In 2020, Google  committed to investing $10 billion in helping India’s small businesses to digitize. This included AI for social good in agriculture. Wadhwa AI plans to advice 300,000 farmers this year, and 2 million farmers by 2022.

Curiopedia
  1. Artificially intelligent robot “Sophia”, created and programmed by Hanson Robotics, is the first robot in the world which has a citizenship of Saudi Arabia. Hanson Robotics is a Hong Kong-based humanoid robotics company.
  2. In 1998, the first ever Google Doodle was created. It depicted the Burning Man Festival. It was designed by the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Germany Witnesses Farmers’ Protests Again

Germany Witnesses Farmers' Protests Again

As German cabinet recently passed legislation to amend laws regarding farming, protests, occurring in its anticipation, were increased in magnitude. Let’s take a look at what the legislation is, and how it has been received there.

Crux of the Matter

Protests
Germany recently passed farm laws which have drawn protest from the farmers across the nation. Several states have witnessed tractor rallies.


Reason?

  • The legislation would reduce the use of glyphosate herbicide, and stop its use completely 2024 onwards.
  • It also restricts the use of fertilizers and insecticides.

The law has been brought to check Germany’s insect population decrease. It has reduced drastically due to excessive use of pesticide. Insects are considered vital for ecological balance.

Major Reaction
The protest are lead by ‘Land schafft Verbindung’ (LsV) (Country Creates Connection) movement, which claims that the laws were passed without consulting the farmers. LsV claims that the restrictions would inflate costs, which would increase food imports and harm the local farmers. They also claim that food import causes more carbon emission and may not qualify German food standards.

  • Farmers have demanded to repeal the legislation and analyse the impact of other infrastructure on insect population instead.
  • Opposition groups like the Green party have claimed that insect population reduction is caused more by ‘industrial-scale farming’.
  • The Left party has blamed ‘market inequality’ for the crisis, blaming monopoly of large corporations which “prohibit fair prices and render ecological solutions infeasible.”

Fact Check: Farmers’ Protest Violence And The Flag Fiasco

All said and done, the entire violent episode – especially on Republic Day – was condemnable. The purpose of this post isn’t to justify any action but to rather look at them from an objective perspective.

The sectarian angle being given to the violence only makes it worse. We feel that as a nation we should work towards de-escalating the issue and bridging any divide between communities.

Further, we feel the sensible thing to do is to not give credibility to a fringe movement like Khalistan by bringing them up again and again in discussions.

Crux of the Matter

The Flag Debate: Understanding The Flags

  • The Khanda is a symbol of the Sikh faith. It attained its current form around the first decade of the 20th century.
  • The Nishan Sahib is a Sikh flag. Generally, it is triangular in shape. The common modern variant is saffron in color. There is a yellow variant called Basanti Nishan Sahib. Modern versions of both have the Khanda symbol.
  • It can also be represented in rectangle shape.

The Other Flags

  • The Khalistani movement is a fundamentalist sectarian secessionist movement that rose in the 70s. While they have adopted some Sikh religious symbols and flags for themselves, they do not represent the Sikh religion. It is a fringe movement that does not have support of the majority of Sikhs.
  • Khalistanis generally use a yellow flag with the Khanda symbol and Khalistan written on it. Their adoption of any flag is not recognised by the Indian state officially.

More Sources Of Confusion
Adding to the confusion, various farmers’ bodies that have participated in the recent farmer protests use yellow flags.

For detailed coverage with pics and videos in-depth, continue reading it on our Summachar Insta page:


India’s Agriculture In Maps & Numbers

India's Agriculture In Maps & Numbers

With farmers protesting the proposed Farm Bills 2020, let us have a look at the landscape of agriculture in India through some interactive maps and numbers.

Crux of the Matter

With the issue revolving around APMCs, firstly let’s have a look at whether a state has adopted APMC act.

Now let us have a look at the annual average income of farmers in India through an interactive map below. Note that 2013 numbers have been adjusted for inflation. Feel free to click on a state and know its stats.

How much land does a farmer on average own in each state? Find out below.

The following infographic details out how much does agriculture contribute to each state’s GDP.

Understanding Farm Sizes Using Football Field
Dimensions of a football field are 67.5 metres x 105 metres in general. This results in a square metre area of ~7,100.

1 acre equals to ~4,050 metre square, meaning roughly 2/3rd of a football field.
1 hectare equals to ~10,000 metre square, meaning roughly 1 and a half football fields.
However, bigha does not have a standard measure, and it ranges from state to state. Usually, 1 bigha equals 0.4 to 0.6 acres.

How Much Does A Farmer Earn?
Let’s look at the earnings of a paddy growing farmer for instance. MSP on paddy in 2020 is ₹1868 per quintal.
Now 1 ton = 10 quintals.

Average yield of paddy in 1 acre land is 4 tons or 40 quintals.
Therefore, earnings on growing paddy in 1 acre land = 40 x ₹1868 = ₹74,720.

Now as 1 hectare = 2.5 acres,
average yield of paddy in 1 hectare land is 10 tons or 100 quintals.
Therefore, earnings on growing paddy in 1 acre land = 100 x ₹1868 = ₹1,86,800.

Now as 1 bigha = 0.6 acres,
average yield of paddy in 1 hectare land is 2.5 tons or 25 quintals.
Therefore, earnings on growing paddy in 1 acre land = 25 x ₹1868 = ₹46,700.

Curiopedia
  • eNAM is an online trading platform for agricultural commodities in India. The market facilitates farmers, traders and buyers with online trading in commodities. The market transactions stood at Rs. 36,200 crore by January 2018, mostly intra-market.
  • Kisaan is a 2009 Bollywood action thriller film directed by Puneet Sira, which focuses on Farmers’ suicides in India. Farmer suicides account for 11.2% of all suicides in India.
  • In 2006, the Government of India identified 31 districts in the four states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Kerala with high relative incidence of farmers’ suicides. A special rehabilitation package was launched to mitigate the distress of these farmers.

What’s Actually In The Farm Bills?

What's Actually In The Farm Bills?

With farmer protests continuing against provisions of the new Farm Bills, let us look at some lesser talked details in the bills.

Crux of the Matter

The Farmers (Empowerment And Protection) Agreement On Price Assurance And Farm Services Act, 2020

Section 6 (3a)

  • Applicable on a farming agreement concerning “seed production”.
  • Sponsor obliged to pay at least 2/3rd of the decided amount at delivery time.
  • Remaining amount to be paid after due certification – not later than 30 days of delivery.

Section 8
Prohibits sponsors from

  • Buying, mortgaging, or leasing farmer’s land.
  • Creating a permanent structure on farmer’s land. Allowed only if Sponsor agrees to and funds the removal of a structure at end of the agreement period.

Section 12 (1)

  • Provision for “electronic registry” for facilitating registration of farming agreements.

Section 14 (1)

  • Parties may approach sub-divisional Magistrate if dispute not settled within 30 days.

Section 19

  • No provision for Civil Court to admit any suit where “Sub-Divisional Authority” settles the dispute.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation)

Section 4 (3)

  • Trader required to pay for farmers’ produce on the same day or within 3 working days.
  • Subject to the condition that delivery receipt (mentioning payment amount due) given to farmer on the same day.

Section 6

  • No market fee under the APMC Act or any other law on any farmers, traders, or electronic trading platform for trade outside APMC.

Section 13

  • No legal action against Central/State Govt or any Central/State officer for anything done “in good faith” under the Act.

Read more about the opposition and reactions to the farm bills here.

Curiopedia
  • Norman Borlaug was an American agronomist who led initiatives worldwide that contributed to the extensive increases in agricultural production termed the Green Revolution. Borlaug was awarded multiple honors for his work, including the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous body responsible for coordinating agricultural education and research in India. It is the largest network of agricultural research and education institutes in the world.
  • Vedic literature provides some of the earliest written records of agriculture in India. Rigveda hymns, for example, describe plowing, fallowing, irrigation, fruit, and vegetable cultivation. Other historical evidence suggests rice and cotton were cultivated in the Indus Valley, and plowing patterns from the Bronze Age have been excavated at Kalibangan in Rajasthan.