Taking a cue from the way chess was played to make strategic decisions in early centuries, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has developed a mobile gaming app ‘MRIDA’ that helps smallholder farmers strategize climate-smart agricultural management practices to enhance soil carbon, which in turn enhances yield and builds resilience.
MRIDA (Managing resources for integrated development of agriculture) was developed as part of a research project funded by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) to conduct a detailed and rigorous assessment of agricultural management practices for their potential to sequester carbon. MRIDA in Hindi means soil.
“We are happy to partner with GIZ in bringing user-friendly technology that not only educates farmers on soil conservation but also captures farmers attitudes to soil management practices in the face of climate change, providing valuable insights to policymakers and governments,” said Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT.
To develop the app, a team of scientists undertook a modeling study from 2020 to 2022 and developed a game that facilitates behavioral change for adopting climate-smart agriculture practices. The game app was developed in collaboration with partner Vasudhaika Software Private Limited (Kalgudi).
“The game app will sensitize farmers on four key elements – fertilizer, crop selection, biochar application and irrigation. Based on the season, they can make their selections and ascertain organic carbon and yield output. The recommendations will help them make better on-farm decisions,” said Dr ML Jat, Global Research Program Director, Resilient Farm and Food Systems, ICRISAT.
The app is currently based on a modeling study conducted in five districts of Maharashtra (Jalna, Dhule, Ahmednagar, Amravati and Yavatmal) and eight districts of Odisha (Angul, Bolangir, Deogarh, Dhenkenal, Kalahandi, Kendujhar, Nuapada and Sundergarh). The app will enable scientists to collect data to understand the decision triggers among farmers.
“Indiscriminate use of fertilizers and other agro-chemicals deteriorates soil health and increases environmental footprints. This app will encourage farmers to explore and apply regenerative agriculture practices and focus not just on yields output but also soil carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. It will also educate farmers on carbon credits,” said Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General-Research, and ICRISAT.
Apart from English, the app is also being developed in Marathi, which is available on Google Play Store.