IISER to accurately aid farmers with crop damage

Institute’s foolproof estimation model will be based on the yield of the unaffected belt closest to farm ravaged by animals; will replace visual assessment method
Forest department officials resorted to culling wild boars in Chandrapur when the threat to farmers’ crops refused to die down. The decision evoked a lot of reactions from activists and farmers, with the latter demanding insurance for their losses. In a bid to estimate their losses accurately, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) has worked out a model to calculate and simplify the losses. The forest department is presently looking at a possibility of emulating it at a pilot phase to understand its functioning.Mafiul Hussain, principal chief conservator of forests research, education and t raining, said that the proposal would be sent to Nagpur for approval.

“We did experimental farming in that region for almost eight years to understand the problems. At the end of it, we found out that there is no way to ascertain the actual losses incurred by the farmers. Mostly, it depended on negotiation,“ informed Milind Watve, professor in IISER’s biology department.

Pune Mirror, in its article dated June 27, 2016, had reported the culling incident at Chandrapur. Most of the farmers were reportedly fed up due to the losses incurred after a pack of boars rummaging through their farms. Sev eral of them had told Mirror that they had given up on the process of claiming compensation.

IISER’s research showed that the visual damage assessment method currently employed was uncorrelated to actual damage and led to underestimation of losses. Moreover, the frequent need for panchanamas (exam inations) at individual farms is time consuming.

“We have come up with a co-operative model for farmers in every belt.At the end of cropping season, the produce in the region will be compared with other unaffected areas in the vicinity and the shortfall of produce will be calculated in percentage for which compensation will be given by the government,“ said Poorva Joshi, director of Bio-Concepts, a consulting firm working in the field of eco-scoping and IISER for the project. She added, “If the farmer under reports the produce, he will automatically receive less amount since the calculated figures will reflect the shortfall percentage of the actual produce.Moreover, other farmers in the group will also not let them overestimate the produce, since the difference between the affected area and unaffected area will reduce.“

This self-reporting model was formulated to curb the rising case of mananimal conflict at Chandrapur (with 11,247 cases reported in 2015-16). It will enable the department to run sample checks in each belt randomly in a bid to ensure no misreporting takes place.

Vijay Dethe, president of Paryavaran Mitra that works with the community for conservation, mitigation of man-animal conflict and sustainable employment generation in these areas, said that the farmers have received the concept very well.

“Moreover, we also feel that this option is feasible in principle. However, the actual usefulness of this model will come forth only after it is implemented,“ Dethe said.

Source : Mirror