Open Source Simple Computer for Agriculture in Rural Areas (OSCAR) is a collaborative effort, initiated by IFP (French Institute of Pondicherry) with Rice-Wheat Consortium for Indo-Gangetic Plains, India, French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), and Communication and Innovation Studies of Wageningen University, The Netherlands as partners in action. This project was co-financed by the European Commissions Asia IT&C (Information Technology and Communication) programme under the Get-in-touch & Keep-in-touch activities in the focus area of Agriculture and Society.
The Project Aimed at building an open source weed identification system for the major weed species for Rice-Wheat cropping systems of Indo-Gangetic plains covering Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The project was launched in January 2004. It has reached its final stages and the open source versions were launched today with the project lifeline extending till June 2006.
The Head of the Rice-Wheat Consortium for Indo-Gangetic Plains, Dr. Raj Gupta welcomed the delegates present for the application launch. He pinpointed key areas in which OSCAR addresses relevant concerns of not only the farmers but also scientists working in agriculture research and development.
Mr. Francisco da Camara S. C. Gomes, Ambassador-Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Commission to India, Bhutan and Nepal was the Chief Guest of the event and he noted that European Unions Asia IT & C programme promoted IT & C cooperation between European and Asian non-profit organisations, for the benefit of Small and Medium Enterprises, and aimed to link Asia with Europe in the search for compatible IT & C solutions and standards. It was a Euro 30 million programme covering 18 South and South East Asian countries, including India. Areas of activity comprised agriculture, education, health, society, transport, tourism, intelligent manufacturing and electronic commerce. The Asia IT & C programme concluded in December 2004, after completion of its 5- year programme lifespan. Nevertheless, several Asia IT & C projects, including OSCAR, are ongoing even today. The broad objectives of ASIA IT &C are now being pursued by the EC under the Asia-Invest Programme.
Mr. Eric Franciscus Charles Niehe, Ambassador of the Netherlands in India, felicitated the project saying, This project signifies the growing Europe-Asia cooperation resulting in a fruitful exercise of knowledge sharing in the areas of Agriculture, Society and IT. He also noted the need to situate such initiatives in ICT not only in a regional and international milieu but more importantly in the rural social contexts, specifically the large populations reliant on agriculture.
Dr. Mruthyunjaya, National Director, National Agriculture Innovation Project, Indian Council of Agricultural Research highlighted the relevance OSCAR brings to the national agriculture research systems across South Asia. It provides an ideal backdrop for researchers and extension workers to provide better services using IT, to farmers bringing about overall success and learning in our institutional framework.
The projects activities encompassed the whole of Indo-Gangetic plains in the past two and half years covering the countries of Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. During the course of the implementation of the project, a list of 50 most significant weed species from the region were identified. Extensive field trips were undertaken in these countries to gain an understanding of the biological, social and cultural aspects of weed management and control. This understanding resulted in the development of a model open source software which addressed the concerns of the relevant target groups viz farmers, extensions workers, students and researchers. Alongside this process of software development, continuous studies on the appropriateness of the software for the different groups were undertaken resulting in an enriched knowledge of the needs of the end-users, like using pictures to help easy identification of the weeds and providing on demand weed control measures in respective local languages viz Hindi, Urdu and Bengali.
This software is now available in four different versions. They are a MS windows version, a Linux version, a PDA (Simputer) version and a web based version available online at www.oscarasia.org/oscarweb . The potential of the utility of the software, as seen by the OSCAR team, is tremendous especially for the extension services and in academia. This could help the on-job training exercises with updated information for the extension services, help improve the capacity building in taxonomy amongst students and researchers and can also be deployed by grassroot level organisations involved in ICT initiatives for agriculture in rural areas of South Asia.
For more information visit: www.oscarasia.org project website.
www.oscarasia.org/oscarweb - web based online version of the software.