Agricultural Transformation in the Making in India

By Anand Singh

A number of path-breaking technologies are transforming agriculture regionally and globally like precision agriculture, stress tolerancecrops (transgenics), novel delivery mechanisms for agri-inputs, Root Zone Optimization (ROOTS) etc.

Indian agriculture is still primarily manual and use of technologies for removing inefficiencies across value chains have been few and far between. However, nearly a decade and half in to the 21st century, agriculture is poised to take a leap. Under the umbrella of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools different technologies and platforms will create linkages across the agricultural value chain bridging the gap of information access about technology, services and marketing of crop produce etc. This is expected to be driven by innovative entrepreneurs in the startup ecosystem and MNCs through HYV, novel delivery mechanisms of agri-inputs, protective seed coatings, biotic &abiotic stress tolerances, supply chain optimizations etc. Some of these technologies are already in use, positively impacting lives of stakeholders,whereas some others are in early stages of development, implementation and are expected to transform agriculture step-by-step in next couple of years. Some of the path-breaking changes happening in agri-technology in India are discussed here.

The biggest transformation will happen via e-commerce platforms, helping farmers sell their produce at the farm gate and having the cascading effect on the supply chain. Some successful models are already transforming the lives of farmers and other stakeholders. The government is also focused on creating an integrated trading portal by linking all Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees(APMCs) in the different parts of the country. Such platforms will create a uniform marketing system in the country not only for the crop produce but also for agri-inputs and will help farmers in receiving better remuneration for their agricultural commodities.

Applications associated with “Digital Farming” are in practice for some time now and expected to be in the forefront of changing dynamics in agriculture with the help of increased mobile penetration and better internet connectivity. The wider adoption of Digital Farming assisting farmers (in irrigation techniques, agriculture practices, disease forecasting and management, rainfall forecasts and suitable solutions)is expected to qualitatively enhance information delivery of technical know-how to farmers through e-updates and other innovative ways through affordable agricultural platforms increasing agricultural productivity leading to higher economic profit. The corporate tie-ups with the mobile technology providers and start up ecosystem will bring a sea-change in the way farming and associated activities are being done in the country.

Another path -breaking service for the small landholding farmers will be the platforms for “last-mile delivery” of the key products(seeds, pesticides, fertilizers etc.) and services (mechanized farm activities like ploughing, harvesting, irrigation etc.) through ICT tools and Internet of things (IoT). There are several startups in Indian ecosystem that have deployed suitable platforms and deliver quality services to farmers at their doorstep in specific geographies to improve efficiencies in agriculture.

A number of path-breaking technologies are transforming agriculture regionally and globally like precision agriculture, stress tolerancecrops (transgenics), novel delivery mechanisms for agri-inputs, Root Zone Optimization (ROOTS) etc. Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in agriculture especially for delivery of various products and services, like pesticides and fertilizers and optimizing the costs by targeted delivery to specific fields and even plants, both for crops and weeds is a developing platform and is expected to gather momentum once government’s regulation towards civil use of UAVs are in place.

The transformational impact of these technologies in India will be a factor of establishing and strengthening the innovation ecosystem ably supported by encouraging policy environment in both the conventional and modern agricultural systems like water &nitrogen use efficiency, transgenic crops, biologicals (pesticides, fertilizers, stimulants and seed coats), UAVs, satellite imaging, big data analytics and precision agriculture etc.

About the Author: Anand Singh, Manager in Life Sciences Advisory Group at Sathguru Management Consultants.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

Source: BW Businessworld

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