Launched last week, the Agropedia initiative – an online repository of rural agricultural knowledge – has been devised to improve distribution of regionally specific crop information to farmers and agricultural extension workers, provide information for students and researchers and provide a place for discussion and knowledge sharing.
This initial phase of the project — working out how to organize the vast amount of knowledge — is nearly completed, and the next step is to develop ways to disseminate this information. Trials in six locations around the country are due to commence shortly. It is hoped that even where farmers have no access to the Internet, the Agropedia information can reach communities by using creative approaches, such as radio plays.
Currently, the website contains information on nine crops – rice, wheat, chickpea, pigeon pea, vegetable pea, lychee, sugarcane, groundnut and sorghum – but it is envisioned that it will eventually cover all agriculture-related topics of interest to Indian farmers.
A group of invited agricultural researchers will analyze and validate content, which will be continually added to the site, in a manner similar to that used by Wikipedia and using open source tools. The site also contains blogs and forums where individuals can provide and exchange knowledge.
The Indian government and the World Bank have provided 85 million-rupee (around US$17 million) to implement the project over 30 months. In addition, the National Agricultural Innovation Project – a six-year government program – is backing the program and six Indian agricultural and technology institutions are partners in the project, providing information and technological expertise.