IDH Partners with IFFCO Kisan to accelerate sustainable chilli farming in India

IDH, through its Technology Innovation and Sector Initiatives Program, has partnered with IFFCO Kisan to test and scale innovative digital solutions to accelerate sustainable chilli farming in Andhra Pradesh, India.

Historically, India has been the world’s largest producer, consumer, and exporter of chillies, and the Indian chilli is considered to be unique due to its colour profile and pungency levels, which are highly desired for culinary purposes, making it a highly export-oriented crop1. Nearly 0.5 million smallholder farmers produce chilli in India, making it a crop of economic importance. However, common farming practices in chilli production areas often focus on utilising hybrid and high-yield varieties, high application of fertilisers, pesticides, agrochemicals, and overuse of water. These unsustainable farming practices gradually contribute to negative impacts, including an increase in resistance to pests and diseases that impact production yields, soil nutrient depletion, lower carbon content in the soil, higher acidity of the soil, irrigation water shortages, decreasing levels of underground water in the long term, and high carbon emissions and footprint. At the same time, chilli producers are facing the brunt of climate change with erratic weather patterns that are making pests and diseases highly unpredictable.

As a response to these challenges, IDH has partnered with IFFCO Kisan to test and scale promising technologies that can support sustainable production of chillies. 1,500 farmers from Andhra Pradesh, India’s highest chilli-producing state, would be part of the programme. Over a time period of 2 years, the partnership will study 3 promising use-cases of digital technologies:

a) data-driven input advisory to reduce pesticide and fertiliser use,

b) parametric insurance to build the climate resilience of chilli farmers, and

c) traceability solutions to ensure that the produce is attractive to buyers that have strict preferences with respect to minimum residue limits.

Besides digital solutions, the programme will also see a ‘phygital’ (physical + digital) model where on-the-ground extension service providers would help translate data into actionable insights to farmers participating in this project. Farmer Producer Organisations will also be provided access to working capital through IFFCO Kisan Finance, an NBFC.

“We are proud to partner with IDH, a key global ambassador of sustainability and innovation. With IDH’s guidance, we have strengthened our sustainability programme framework and advanced key metrics for gender equality, climate resilience, productivity, and more. Through our collaborative efforts, we’ve leveraged data-driven insights and cutting-edge precision farming solutions to address India’s unique challenges. Together we aim to set new standards for sustainability in India, fostering a future where every farmer thrives,” said Morup Namgail, Head Agritech, IFFCO Kisan.

“Technology is imperative if sustainable development outcomes are to be achieved at scale, especially in a world that is facing the brunt of climate change every day. IFFCO Kisan’s model of leveraging technology for demand-driven farming holds significant promise not only for chilli but several smallholder-dominated value chains. We hope to learn from this project and replicate the results across geographies and value chains to build resilience of smallholder farmers and reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture,” said Shreejit Borthakur, Technology Lead at IDH.

Through this project, IDH seeks to address issues related to access, affordability, and adoption of digital technologies among smallholder farmers, who may not have previously benefited from agritech solutions. The learnings from this programme will then be used to support farmers’ transition to data-driven agriculture across a wide range of value chains in order to enhance their livelihoods and also reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture.


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