An open source programme to help farmers
a new open source software to identify and manage the major weed species of rice-wheat cropping systems of the Indo-Gangetic plains was launched recently. It targets farmers, extension workers, students, researchers and grass roots organisations.
The project is called the Open source Simple Computer for Agriculture in Rural areas software (oscar) and covers Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. It is available in different versions -- ms Windows, Linux, Simputer (low-cost alternative to personal computers) -- and can also be accessed online at www.oscarasia.org .
oscar is a collaborative effort of the French Institute of Pondicherry (ifp), an autonomous research, expertise and training institution working in south and south-east Asia; the Rice-Wheat Consortium for Indo-Gangetic Plains; cirad, an agricultural research centre based in France, and the Wageningen University of the Netherlands.
The project lists 50 of the 300 weed species of the Indo-Gangetic plain. Project manager Pierre Grard of ifp said his team was working to include the remaining 250 species but it would happen in the next project phase after they assess the response to the model project. The team claims the weed management and control methods offered have been designed after extensive field trips in the region. The control methods have been listed under different heads -- biological, chemical, mechanical and agricultural or cultural.
The team says the software uses pictures to help easy identification of the weeds. oscar is also available in Hindi, Urdu and Bengali to cater to a broader readership across the countries.
Vinod Jyani, a farmer of Katera village in Ferozepur district of Punjab feels the benefits from the software could be considerable. Weed infestation in India causes an average loss in yield of 8 per cent for wheat and 12 per cent for rice. The information provided by the software could be taken to the farmers through extension workers and panchayats, says Ajay Tripathi of the ngo Kheti Virasat Mission based in Jaitto village of Faridkot district in Punjab.
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