Hybrid Agricultural Information Delivery System as a Means to Improve Sustainability of Agriculture: Experimental Evidence from India
72 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2021
Date Written: April 9, 2021
Extant research and policy on agriculture tend to treat financial sustainability and ecological sustainability of agricultural operations as mutually exclusive goals. We show that sharing the current stock of agricultural research with farmers through an innovative information delivery method can help in pursuing these two goals simultaneously.
We used a mix of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and agent-based information delivery methods to provide information about all aspects of crop production with a focus on nutrient management and plant protection to paddy (rice) and cotton farmers in a field experiment setup. The method of information delivery enabled us to provide customized and detailed information. Our study finds that two years of intervention led to an increase in paddy yields by 18 percent and cotton yields by 85 percent. The enhanced yields were achieved along with reduction in the use of inorganic fertilizers and crop protection chemicals. At end of two years, intervention led to optimal, balanced usage of inorganic fertilizers by farmers and an overall reduction in the quantity of fertilizers used. Intervention also led to reduction in expenses related to crop protection chemicals owing to their proper usage. Yield enhancement and cost reduction contributed to an increase in net returns by 78 percent and 221 percent for paddy and cotton crops, respectively. Along with improving the financial viability of farming, proper use of chemicals adds to the ecological sustainability of agriculture.
The results of this study are important because they show that improved delivery of agricultural information can be used to attain goals beyond yield enhancement and that significant results can be achieved in a relatively short span of time. The results also have important implications for the management of agricultural information delivery initiatives and the continuity of such initiatives.
Keywords: Agricultural information delivery, Agricultural sustainability, Information and communication technology, Randomized control trial
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