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Free Software to Aid Farmers

Arun Raj, CEO of Orisys India Consultancy Services opined that a comprehensive study on the ground reality of agriculture was the need of the hour. The debate on 'challenges of IT initiatives in farming sector' held in the Thiruvananthapuram and he took part in this debate.

At the talk held as part of FOSS (free & open source software) Young Professional Meet, this meet was organized by ICFOSS, an autonomous institution of the state government that promotes free and open source software.

Raj said, "Proper information on each locality could provide customer input required for developing software that would be useful in the agriculture sector. We can't expect farmers to come forward and provide the specifications. Only a full-fledged study could bridge this gap between technology and agriculture."

The two-day conclave on 'FOSS for Sustainable Development' was attended by more than 350 delegates, including, young software developers and students. The free software expert’s discussion concluded that agricultural production, distribution and food security squarely depended on providing the right information at the right time through information technology and it has to provide updates on everything related to the sector like seeding, soil testing, weather, crop protection, marketing etc.

The session on FOSS tools and data for mapping, monitoring and modelling of crops, led by Vinay Seghal, who is the professor at Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa Campus, New Delhi, said that FOSS provides freedom to learn, share and make modifications to suit various agricultural needs and conditions without depending on vendors/intermediaries.

Deliberations were also held on to required information, overcoming the price barrier in use of information technology, how the adoption of free and open source software could improve farmers' access.

To facilitate development in all spheres of human activity, there is the need of cost effective information technologies, said Jayasankar Prasad, director of ICFOSS.