Maha Agri-Tech Scheme is the first-of-its-own-kind of scheme in the entire nation and was started by CM Devendra Fadnavis on 14th January, 2019 to digitally supervise agriculture activities such as  seed sowing to crop harvesting, sowing area, change in weather, various diseases on crops and also to provide information to the farmers regarding the same using the latest satellite and drone technologies. Maharashtra Remote Application Centre (MRSAC) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had assisted the state govt. to implement this program. 

All the problems faced by the farmers in the agricultural sector are going to be resolved using this technology. Around 1.5 crore farmers would be brought on a digital platform through this Maha Agri-Tech program. The state govt. will perform a survey of time from sowing to harvesting by measuring the crop wise area using satellites. After harvesting, farmers can know details about the produce and will also assist them in getting good price for the agriculture produce.

Objectives of the Maha Agritech Phase-1:

  1. To map the crops and inventory at circle and district level using satellite technology
  2. To monitor crop prospects with satellite derived indices (NDVI/NDWI/VCI) at circle level
  3. crop yield modeling (semi empirical and process based) for pre-harvest assessment of crop yields for major crops.
  4. Integration of soil health card data and dissemination of nutrient based crop advisories.
  5. Expansion of extension activities (knowledge dissemination), through digital platforms.
  6. Development of mobile app for evidence based field data collection.
  7. Integration of CROPSAP and other operational mobile app available with the agriculture department.
  8. Development and deployment of Geo-portal & dedicated dashboard for decision support for agriculture management.
  9. Training/capacity building to the Department of Agriculture and line Departments.
  10. Encourage R&D activities as a parallel effort to bring innovative products and services into the system.

As part of the pilot, extended kharif crop (cotton and tur) and rabi crop (sorphum) were monitored digitally in districts of Beed, Solapur, Nagpur, Buldhana, Jalgaon and Latur in phase-1.

Eknath Dawale, secretary, department of agriculture, government of Marahashtra, said “The pilot of Maha Agritech has been giving promising results. The positive outcome has encouraged the department to expand the next phase of the project all over the state.

Giving the details, the official said, the department has detected change in crops and their balanced progress in these districts and witnessed improved crop condition and yield prospects compared to previous years. He said the government had allocated an amount of Rs 28 crore for the pilot project during 2019-20 financial year. Going forward, a budgetary allocation of Rs 34 crore and Rs 37 crore for the next phase of the project has been proposed for 2020-21 and 2021-22 fiscals respectively, said the official.

The 5 Objectives of the Maha Agri Tech in terms of keeping a tab on the cycle of crop cultivation are:

The primary objective is the estimation of crop-wise area. While measuring the crop-wise area using remote sensing technology, the data of the time from sowing-to-harvesting is collected. The data will help us in the future to advise farmers to assess the potential area for growing pulses and horticultural crops. It also helps farmers to know about the products and help get a good price for the agricultural produce.

The second is to get data pertaining to crop health like plant growth, deficiency or improved seeds, balance use of fertilizers, pest management, land development, micro-irrigation, etc. In the manual process, we have to rely on field officers and supervisors to access these data to put it on the Crop Pest Surveillance and Advisory Project (CROPSAP). However, using the technology, we are now able to give GIS-based pest mapping and advisory dissemination to the farmers.

The maps also generated through this system can be used for identifying epidemic areas of particular pests. Wherever the pest population crosses Economic Threshold Level (ETL) subsidized pesticides are supplied on priority through different programmes.

The third goal is to push technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict indicative crop yield prediction or estimation through an accurate analysis of highly localized soil health and moisture conditions using satellite imagery. The estimation helps us to formulate policy decisions and advisories ranging from crop suitability, inventory, crop damage assessment, as well as estimation of crop insurance.

The fourth aim is to estimate weather parameters throughout the year. The use of satellite images, drones, and machine learning can plug some of the productivity gaps by enabling both farmers and policy makers to plan better. Maharashtra has 2,061 revenue circles automation weather stations (RCAWS) providing five kinds of weather parameters – temperature, relative humidity, rainfall, wind speed, wind direction in every 10-minute interval. The data helps us to evaluate the crop health in terms of stage-wise crop growth, weather-wise projection in crop swing, also yield estimation.

Maha Agritech is a single digital solution or platform that integrates all the digital applications whether it is the state’s CROPSAP or the center’s Soil Health Card Scheme (SHCS) to give advisory to framers,”

Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC), Nagpur is the implementing agency for the project while National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad is the partner. Other institutions, which have contributed their services to the project are: Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, Maharashtra Project on Climate Resilient Agriculture.

The phase-2 will cover major field and horticulture crops in the state. Apart from expanding best practices of the pilot to the next phase, developing new modules is the main objective of the phase-2. 

Phase II New modules includes:

  • Crop planning tools
  • Crop surveillance system with mobile apps
  • Weather data
  • Satellite based indices and analytics
  • Development and management of drought monitoring system
  • Crop insurance solutions.

Development of mobile applications which arepart of phase 2 includes:

  • Ground Truth Collection Application
  • Smart CCE Application 
  • Grievance Redressal System
  •  Application for Farmers Open Discussion Forum
  • Web-based Dashboard for government