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Hyderabad based scientist as Consultant to UN based agency

Hyderabad: Dr. Shaik N Meera, Principal Scientist from ICAR- Indian Institute of Rice Research is on a mission as Consultant to International Fund for Agricultural Development, a United Nation’s specialized agency aimed at improving the livelihoods of farmers.

He will be visiting Egypt to advise on the advanced strategies to prosperity among the thousands of small farmers through better marketing linkages and sustainable agricultural intensification.

Being a globally renowned digital extension specialist in agriculture, Dr. Shaik Meera will advise on transforming the Egyptian agricultural organizations into digital learning organizations with use of advanced digital strategies.

It is indeed a great moment for the institute and the city where its scientist got global recognition especially in the niche area that has transformative capacity for agriculture.

Dr. Meera expertise lies in more than 16 years of handling digital agriculture projects that made significant impacts on the livelihoods of millions of farmers. He is an authority in contemporary digital strategies in agriculture with more than 3500 projects analyzed so far by him.

He is a pioneer in bringing the fruits of digital revolution to the door steps of farmers. During 2012-13 he extended his support as a visiting researcher to International Rice Research Institute, Philippines in upgrading their Rice Knowledge Bank and Rice Doctor two of the earliest digital tools in the rice sector.

As a visiting fellow at Iowa State University, he formulated strategies for harnessing knowledge management strategies to link farmers to technologies and markets. Among many others, he received Lal bahadur Shastri Young Scientist award of ICAR for the significant contributions made in Indian agriculture. Till now he received 12 national and international awards and two gold medals for his innovative ideas that have helped many organizations.

When contacted over phone, Dr. Meera expressed his willingness to extend his cooperation to the state governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh if they request him to do so.

According to him the best in use of digital tools in agriculture is yet to be realized in these states. He opined that there is a need to change the way we are handling the digital projects that aim at farmers’ development.

Financial inclusion (rural credit/ financing and insurance / risk mitigation models are available world over and mobile / cloud computing are used to benefit small holder farmers. This is one area, according to him; both the states can take the lead. Digital support of export and import (grapenet), traceability with low cost digital tools to improve the export potentials, unified markets to help small holder farmers, electronic market reforms that include capacity development across the value chain players are few areas where improvements are required.

Crucial to the success of crop colonies are better planning of economic clusters / market responsive farmland use with simple investments models/ farm management tools / Calculators / Low cost GIS technologies etc.,

During his mission in Egypt he is formulating an integrated strategy for Egypt in using drones, aggregation models, mobile computing, Big data and predictive analytics, amazonizaion of agricultural markets, Unique ID (Aadhar) enabled Services in agriculture for benefiting small holder farmers.

His concern is that Indian agriculture too is capable of bringing disruptive innovations with digital tools with concerted efforts, but not much was done with visible benefits. Digital disruption is happening across industries (agriculture is no longer an exception!) bringing significant values to individuals and organizations.

We are spotting disruptive trends in commerce, health, hotel, governance, banking industries, but have seldom tried to relate them to rural advisories and agricultural development.

It is high time governments in both the Telugu states give a serious thought in bringing integration of efforts for benefiting the small holder poor farmers. And there are experts like Dr. Meera available next to us. (INN)

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