How the ‘Farm Distress Index’ predicts farmer problems before they happen
Farm distress continues to be reported from various parts of the country. Farmers who are in distress may commit suicide if the situation is not addressed.
Farmers facing hardships are not being attended to at the appropriate time because there is no credible mechanism in place to identify distress as it occurs.
Farmers Distress Index is an early warning system developed by scientists at the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), an Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) organ.
‘The index is composed of 21 simple questions, which are divided into seven blocks of three questions each.” “We can tell whether they are in distress or not by getting answers to these questions,’ A Amarender Reddy, Head, Section of Design and Analysis at ICAR-CRIDA, told businessline.
The index was created as part of the Nabard-funded ‘Farmers Distress and PMFBY’ project.
How does it work?
According to Reddy, who led the project, the index can detect imminent distress at least 3-4 months before it occurs, allowing governments and other agencies to take preventive measures. “If they are in distress, the Index can tell what level they are in,” he explained.
The questions were designed by the institute around seven key pillars that capture their financial, emotional, and other characteristics. A web application and an Android app beta version are now available.
‘We can ask these questions to a sample of farmers after identifying a vulnerable village or mandal.’ The information will be entered into the app, which will then generate a report based on the responses,’ he explained.
Farmers’ distress is a recurring issue in dryland India, particularly in drought-prone Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
According to a new study, climate change is speeding up and intensifying droughts, particularly the fast-developing heat-driven type that catches farmers off guard.
Factors that can cause farmers to be distressed
‘It can be financial, economic, and emotional hardship caused by crop failures, low productivity, low prices for their produce, a lack of access to credit, loan repayment pressure from money lenders, and natural disasters,’ he explained.
This app will assist in measuring the severity and dimensions of potential distress and inform local governments to take timely action to mitigate the severity.