Farming Life Cycle: Steps a farmer performs and what information is required at each step?
15 November 2012
A farmer performs following eight major steps from crop selection to harvesting:
- Crop Selection
- Land Preparation
- Seed Selection
- Seed Sowing
- Crop Growth
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Farmers typically rely on following sources of information:
- Agriculture department of provincial government.
- Fellow farmers.
- Field agents of seed, pesticide and fertilizer companies.
- TV and radio programs.
CHALLENGES AND ROADBLOCKS IN INFORMATION FLOW
Farmers typically face following challenges in receiving timely and personalized information:
- Farmer has to travel to offices of agricultural department for information. This is a costly and time consuming activity. Availability of government officials is unpredictable.
- Radio or TV programs are broadcast at a predefined schedule which may or may not be convenient for the farmer. Information should be available to the farmer on demand and should be personalized to his needs. Majority of farmers in villages either do not have access to newspapers or lack of education makes their access limited.
- Most of the information broadcast may not be specific to a farmer’s needs.
- Fellow farmers do not have the best or most up to date knowledge.
- Field agents of pesticide or seed companies are unable to pay frequent and timely visits to all farmers.
INFORMATION REQUIRED BY THE FARMERS
Farmers need information at each step form crop selection to harvesting. Information required by the farmers at each of these steps is presented next.
1 Crop Selection
- Comparative pricing of different crops. For some crops government releases prices of the crop at the time of seeding.
- Market demand and sale potential of the crop.
- Budget required for the cultivation of each crop.
- Feasibility of the crop considering climate and quality of land.
- Crop productivity compared with other alternatives.
2 Land Preparation
- Effects of any disease from the previous cultivation and steps needed to minimize this impact.
- Fertilizers needed to bring land to its normal fertility depending upon the previous crops and fertilizer used.
- Layout and design of the field with respect to crop for efficient irrigation.
- Latest techniques for leveling the fields and their cost.
3 Seed Selection
- Price and quantity needed per acre
- Average yield and sprout to sown ratio.
- Suitability to particular area and climate.
- Water requirement.
- Resistance to diseases.
- Location of distribution offices for the seed.
4 Seed Sowing
- Appropriate time to sow the seed.
- Optimal weather conditions at sowing time.
- Best method for the sowing of seeds.
- Seed sowing depth.
- Critical time for irrigation.
- Amount of water to be given to the plants.
- Frequency of irrigation.
6 Crop Growth
- Number of plants per unit of area. At times more than optimum number of seeds sprouts are planted in a given area. Farmers must reduce density for healthy growth of plants.
- Average growth rate of the crop in normal conditions.
- Comparison of crop growth rate, leaf size, crop color etc. with expected growth for given conditions and input.
- Interventions needed to maintain expected growth.
- Frequency, quantity and method for fertilization.
- Proper time, frequency and method for plowing.
- Proper time, frequency and method for weeding.
- Expected pest and virus attacks, symptoms of such attacks, precautionary measure that can be taken in advance to avoid these attacks, immediate actions including pesticide to be used to kill pests and viruses, quantity of pesticide to be used per acre, most effective method for pesticide spray, avoid health issues related to pesticide spray.
- Proper time and method for harvesting.
- Comparative market rates.
- Proper crop storage.
- Cost of transportation.
Courtesy: Mahtab Rasheed