1. It’s been quite a challenge in the recent decade in Indian agriculture, starved of financial resources and continuing neglect by the government, and is likely to become more difficult over the next few decades as weather patterns, available water and growing seasons shift further. Climate change has contributed to the suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers over the past three decades.
Against this backdrop, technology is increasingly being seen as a solution for boosting agriculture. For addressing the agricultural woes and India’s farmers it’s technology, not the government that is the key. #FarmersLivesMatter
2. The agricultural sector is transforming. Technology, agri-startups and digital innovations are revolutionising this sector, faster than ever. The introduction and use of new technologies— satellite imagery, data analytics, soil chemistry, big data, apps, artificial intelligence, and sensors—in the farming sector is enough to propel the $400 billion agricultural economy—17.34% of the overall gross domestic product—to $1 trillion in the next five years or so.
3. So from now, forget agriculture as you know it. The advancement of Precision Agriculture technology—such as robotics, data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) for farms have spawned a new incarnation of the sector, resulting in greater yields with fewer inputs. Basically conducting every practice of farming which is more accurate and controlled when it comes to the growing of crops and raising livestock. This is called as Precision Agriculture. The concept originated in the US and European countries.
4. Another emerging concept in India is hydroponics. The word hydroponics comes from hydro meaning water, and ponos meaning labour. It is meant to represent the growth of plants in any medium — sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients, but without soil. Most people in India have grown up on the idea that good water, good soil and lots of sunlight translate into good farming. That may have been true for most farmers, for a great deal of time. But new research and practice have shown that what healthy plants really require are good seeds, good water and nutrients. Plants do not really require soil.
5. Agricultural drones work on artificial intelligence and are equipped with sensors they are capable of performing almost everything. This includes the most basic ones – like spraying just the right amount of fertilizers on crops, planting seeds in inaccessible areas like the hill, monitoring huge acres of lands to prevent theft. These drones help with the most advanced functions as well as crop and weed mapping, field survey and analysis, pest scouting and irrigation management.
6. This technology can be infused with active participation from the youth. The young among the farming communities are hardly interested in agriculture. Though 80-90 per cent of students studying agriculture belongs to the farming community, most of them prefer to choose a different career. Even a majority of students who graduate from agricultural universities switch over to other professions. It is called the “great Indian agro brain drain”. We need to stop this agro brain drain. From increasing the number of scholarships and encouraging more research and development to making more farm entrepreneurs, here’s how to inspire India’s youth to take up farming.
Clearly, technology is the new big thing the agricultural sector. But now all agree with this. Experts believe that innovations in an agri-value chain will fail to be disruptive in India. For instance, Dr Dilip Kulkarni, President of Food Division of Jain Irrigation Systems feels that the farmers are not the centre of these innovations. Further, in a country were only 10% of the farmers can afford farming machinery, affording the latest products from the West seems to be a distant dream. Here are 5 reasons why technology will fail to disrupt Agriculture Value Chain in India.
WTD News is partnering with X Billion Action Lab for the 9th UN Young Changemakers Conclave on 27th October, at the US Consulate Lawns in Mumbai. Join us as we discuss #ReimaginingAgriculture with the Director of Jain FarmFreshFoods Ltd, Athang Jain at the event or on our Instagram.