Blog

Digitalization of Agriculture: Indian Context

Digitalization of Agriculture: Indian Context

GS3- Agriculture

About

The term "digitalization of agriculture" refers to the integration of cutting-edge digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robots, unmanned aviation systems, sensors, and communication networks, into the farm production system

Digital agriculture as a holistic approach to address modern farming challenges. A pathway to a more productive, sustainable, and healthier future for agriculture and rural communities.

 

  • Components of Digital Agriculture
    • Precise weather forecasts are needed for planning.
    • Yield mapping for comprehensive crop performance analysis.
    • Variable applications of water, herbicides, and fertilizers for efficient resource usage
    • GPS guiding systems to optimize farming operations

 

  • Goals of Digital Agriculture
    • Boost crop output.
    • Decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Improve farmer and family health.
    • Enhance food security 

 

What will this do?

 

  • Data-Driven Farming   
      • Modern technologies are used to gather and analyze data.  
      • Tracking variables like moisture, nutrient levels, and wind patterns on arable land.
  • Integration of External Data
      • Accurate collection of external data, including meteorological data.
      • Combining internal and external data for informed decision-making.
  • Sustainability and Health
      • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
      • Promotion of sustainable farming practices.
      • Positive impact on farmer and family health through data-driven decisions.
  •  Fostering Innovation
    • Development of new services, tools, and methodologies.
    • Promotion of youth entrepreneurship in the food and agricultural industries.
    • Responsible applications of existing technologies for improved efficiency.

 

Benefits

 

  • Increases agricultural productivity and decreases production costs
  • Slows down soil deterioration
  • Reduces crop production's use of chemicals
  • Encourages the efficient and effective use of water resources.
  • Improves the socioeconomic circumstances of farmers
  • Lessens adverse effects on the environment and ecology
  • Improves workplace safety

 

Significance 

 

  • Enhanced Productivity: Digital technologies enable farmers to optimize their operations by providing real-time data and insights. This leads to increased crop yields and, subsequently, greater food production to meet the needs of India's growing population.
  • Mitigating Climate Change: By optimizing farming practices, digital agriculture can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with traditional, resource-intensive farming methods. This contributes to India's efforts in mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects.
  • Food Security: India faces the challenge of ensuring food security for its vast population. Digitalization of agriculture helps in increasing the availability and accessibility of food by making farming more efficient and resilient.
  • Market Access: Digital platforms provide farmers with access to markets, helping them find better prices for their produce. This reduces the exploitation of farmers by intermediaries and supports rural economies.
  • Inclusive Growth: Digital agriculture has the potential to bridge the digital divide in rural areas, bringing technology to traditionally underserved communities. This promotes inclusive economic growth and development.
  • DataDriven Policy: The data generated by digital agriculture can inform government policies and agricultural strategies. It enables more targeted interventions and subsidies, fostering sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Attracting Youth to Farming: With the integration of modern technology, farming becomes more appealing to younger generations. This encourages youth to engage in agriculture and explore innovative, tech-savvy farming methods.
  • Competitiveness in Global Markets: By adopting digital technologies, Indian farmers can produce higher quality products and be more competitive in international markets, which is crucial for the country's agricultural exports.

 

Challenges

 

  •  Limited Digital Literacy: Many farmers in India may not be familiar with digital technology or have access to smartphones and the internet, making it challenging to implement digital solutions.
  • Infrastructure Gaps: In rural areas, there can be a lack of reliable internet connectivity and electricity, hindering the adoption of digital tools and platforms.
  • Language and Regional Diversity: India's diverse population speaks multiple languages and follows different regional practices. Creating digital solutions that cater to these variations can be a significant challenge.
  • Affordability: High costs of smartphones, data plans, and digital equipment can be a barrier for small-scale and marginalized farmers.
  • Data Security and Privacy: Farmers might be concerned about the privacy and security of their agricultural data when using digital platforms, leading to hesitancy in adoption.
  • Resistance to Change: Traditional farming practices may be deeply ingrained, and convincing farmers to embrace digital technologies can be met with resistance.
  • Reliability and Accuracy: Digital tools for weather forecasts, crop management, and market information need to be highly reliable and accurate for farmers to trust and use.
  • Lack of Customization: One-size-fits-all digital solutions may not work well for the diverse agricultural practices across different regions and crops in India.
  • Data Ownership and Control: Farmers may worry about who owns and controls the data generated through digital tools and platforms, leading to concerns about exploitation.
  • Policy and Regulatory Challenges: There may be gaps in regulations and policies related to digital agriculture, which can create uncertainty and barriers for both farmers and technology providers.

Addressing these challenges is crucial for the successful digitalization of agriculture in India, as it has the potential to significantly improve productivity, sustainability, and income for farmers.

 

India's Digital Agriculture Initiatives

 

  • Digital Agriculture Mission 2021-2025 
    • In September 2021, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar announced the Digital Agriculture Mission 2021-2025, partnering with Cisco, Ninjacart, Jio Platforms, ITC, and NCDEX e-markets to advance digital agriculture using AI, blockchain, remote sensing, robots, and drones.

 

  • Thriving Agri-Tech Start-up Ecosystem 
    • India is home to more than 1,000 agri-tech start-ups, and numerous venture capital funds, loan funds, and angel investors have long backed the industry. These startups have creative concepts that help farmers enhance their farming practices and produce.

 

  • NITI Aayog and IBM's Crop Production Forecast Model
    • NITI Aayog and IBM have collaborated to develop an AI-powered crop production forecast model that will give farmers access to real-time data and the necessary guidance. It helps to improve crop yield, soil quality, input control, and early disease outbreak warning.

 

  • Cisco's Agricultural Digital Infrastructure (ADI) Solution
    • A solution for Agricultural Digital Infrastructure (ADI) was developed by Cisco in August 2019 to enhance farming and knowledge sharing. This was crucial to the data pool that was created by the Department of Agriculture for the National Agri Stack.

 

  • Jio Agri (Jio Krishi) Platform
    • The Jio Agri (Jio Krishi) platform was introduced in February 2020, and it digitalized the agricultural ecosystem along the entire value chain to empower farmers. The main purpose of the platform is to provide advice using data from independent applications. Its advanced features use data from various sources, input it into AI algorithms, and then deliver precise, individualized advice.

 

  • Climate-Smart Farming Practices
    • India is progressively adopting climate-smart farming practices, which will help to change the nation's ecology and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural activities. For instance, farmers in the Gujarati village of Dhundi have started using solar electricity and other renewable energy sources for irrigation.

 

  • Microsoft and Indian Government's Unified Farmer Services Interface
    • In order to assist India's small-holder farmers, Microsoft and the Indian government have collaborated to run a pilot program called "Unified Farmer Services Interface." By enhancing price management and increasing agricultural yield with the aid of AI sensors, the alliance seeks to increase farmers' incomes. The collaboration would accelerate the use of AI in farming.

 

  • Sensor-based Smart Agriculture (SENSAGRI) Program
    • The government's Sensor-based Smart Agriculture (SENSAGRI) program involves six institutions. In this idea, drones would be used to efficiently scout out land areas, gather priceless information, and immediately communicate the data to farmers.

G20 Delhi Declaration

The G20 Delhi declaration aims to foster responsible, sustainable, and inclusive digital technology use by farmers and an ecosystem of Agri-Tech start-ups and MSMEs.

Way forward

  • Remote sensing, soil sensors, unmanned aerial surveying, market insights, and other technological interventions enable farmers to gather, visualize, and evaluate crop and soil health concerns at various phases of production in a practical and economical manner. They can serve as a first indicator to spot possible problems and offer solutions to address them quickly.
  • Artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) algorithms can produce in-the-moment actionable insights to assist in soil screening, increase crop production, control pests, and lessen farmer workload.
  • With the help of blockchain technology, you can track your food and track tamper-proof, accurate data about farms, inventories, and transactions. As a result, farmers no longer need to rely on files or paperwork to record and save crucial information.

 

Conclusion

The Indian agriculture sector is embracing modern technologies like IoT, AI/ML, and agri-drones for unmanned aerial surveying, presenting a significant opportunity for Indian and foreign agritech players to supply these advanced technologies to farmers. The success of digital agriculture in India depends on factors like affordability, ease of access, system maintenance, and supportive government policies. A holistic ecosystem approach, with the government as a key enabler, is crucial for achieving national objectives, such as doubling farmer incomes and sustainable development.

Book A Free Counseling Session