ITC joins forces with Microsoft and Skymet to insulate tobacco producers from weather events.

The fact that climate change is negatively affecting agriculture is not news. But a little-known fact is that it causes widespread damage to the tobacco crop in India, causing an estimated loss of ₹800-900 crore in export earnings. “Due to biotic and abiotic stresses caused by the vagaries of climate, farmers are losing their production,” HN Ramaprasad, managing director, tobacco business, ITC, told Businessline. the example of tobacco farmers in Karnataka, whose production has fallen to around 60 million kilograms (mkg) compared to the limit of 90-100 mkg set by the tobacco board in 2021 and 2022.

First, the government, a branch of the Union Ministry of Commerce, regulates the size of the tobacco crop. After discussions with stakeholders, the size of the annual harvest is agreed upon. Farmers cannot grow more than that.

Unstable weather

“We have noticed that climate change causes floods and droughts that adversely affect crops at different stages. Whether it is El Nino or La Nina, farmers lose out due to erratic weather patterns such as floods and droughts”. “To help farmers mitigate the problem, we have put together a structured program for 2021 and partnered with four countries. companies to collect data so that we can accurately predict weather conditions in the coming weeks,” said Ramprasad. “We collect data from our partners like Microsoft and SkyMet and aggregate it into an easy-to-understand and actionable overview before distributing it through WhatsApp groups and Zoom calls. Since it is a regulated crop, the number of farmers is limited so that the company can reach people in sensitive areas. The company has selected coastal areas of Nellore and Prakasam districts in Andhra Pradesh which are prone to extreme events. After piloting parts of the kit across more than 70,000 hectares in two districts, the company expanded it to the tobacco-growing areas of Mysore, where export-oriented tobacco is produced.

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