India’s plan to disseminate price forecast of crops four times in a year to help farmers plan sowing and selling to earn better prices may be delayed by a year or two as the government has started re-checking price data of last 10 years with physical records maintained at mandis. The current exercise, undertaken by the National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NIAP), will make India the first country to officially undertake such an exercise globally.
“Some private agencies are doing on their own. But, when the government will have to do, it needs credibility. Without data accuracy, it will be difficult to predict prices based on a statistical model,” a government source said. The information related to crop prices and arrival quantities is maintained on the agmarknet portal and data entered by the officials at mandi level on real-time basis. Since, the Centre does not have direct control over the mandi staff, nor any mechanism to cross check, some errors have now come to light after the price forecast project was taken up, sources said.
The government is also open to use of artificial intelligence (AI) for the price forecast and some of the top global IT companies have expressed their willingness to partner with the project, officials said, declining to name any company in particular. The committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income (DFI), under Ashok Dalwai, has suggested adopting a ‘demand-driven approach’ for efficient monetisation of farm produce and to synchronise the production activities in agriculture and allied sectors.