Farmers are on the boil again in India. In western Maharashtra state, they have been on strike for a week in some seven districts now, spilling milk on the streets, shutting down markets, protesting on the roads and attacking vegetable trucks. In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, curfew has been imposed after five farmers were killed in clashes with police on Tuesday. Last month, farmers in southern Telangana and Andhra Pradesh staged protests and burnt their red chilli crop.
Al Jazeera correspondent Gelareh Darabi recently travelled to Nepal for the broadcaster’s Earthrise programme, to see how plant clinics in Pokhara are helping farmers deal with crop pests such as tuta absoluta.
Last year Plantwise launched in Jammu & Kashmir state, India, with the establishment of 15 plant clinics across 3 districts in the Jammu region. This year sees the launch of an exciting new development, with the roll-out of e-plant clinics to revolutionize the extension system and support the quick transfer of information and advice to farmers via text messages on their mobile phones. This process began with a series of training workshops last month, which were officially inaugurated by Jenab Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Jammu & Kashmir.
In the busy streets of Hanoi, history was made last month. CABI Southeast Asia (CABI-SEA) signed a memorandum of understanding with Agricultural Multimedia Joint Stock Company (AgriMedia) – a private company working in the field of agriculture. As a pioneer in M2M applications in agriculture, AgriMedia was established in 2014 and aims to provide a wide range of effective agricultural solutions via agricultural information services on mobile phone and applications from smart agricultural technologies.
With 50 staff, advanced agricultural technologies and a broad network of leading agricultural experts in Vietnam, AgriMedia is committed to provide high-quality and timely agricultural information related to domestic and global commodity price and market, weather forecast advisory or expert advice on agriculture techniques, bringing benefits to farmers and agricultural enterprises in Vietnam. In fact, AgriMedia is the only private company to be given a licence by the government to provide weather forecast. It currently works with a Japanese company to provide services using smart weather stations installed in the central agro-ecological zones of Vietnam.
Greater involvement of women in plant clinics has improved the climate resilience of the farmers in Rohal Suong village, Cambodia. Women farmers play a critical role in agricultural production and food security, as well as household welfare in most Southeast Asian countries. According to a Census of Agriculture in Cambodia in 2013, of the 82% of Cambodians engaged in the agriculture sector, at least half of them were women.
Driving from Kathmandu to Panchkhal, there are occasional reminders of the traumatic 2015 earthquake. Collapsed buildings which have not yet been rebuilt and major road damage, made worse by each successive monsoon season. Farmers on terraced fields are getting ready for the upcoming paddy season. I am going to meet Debraj Adhikari, an old friend and the plant doctor responsible for plant clinics in Kavrepalanchok district.
I meet Man Bahadur Chhetri and his assistant on a bright Sunday morning as they are setting up the e-plant clinic in Gorkana, on the outskirts of Kathmandu. On the drive over, I saw plenty of maize being grown on smallholder plots and, here and there, tomatoes in polytunnels. Around the corner from the clinic, a woman is sorting potatoes on the floor of a dark storage room on the ground floor of her house. Nepal’s economy is predominantly agricultural and even a mere 10km from the centre of Kathmandu, I can tell it is a major part of people’s lives.