The agriculture industry has profoundly changed throughout the course of recent years. Progress in machinery has extended farm equipment’s scale, speed, and efficiency, prompting more productive development of more land. Seed, water systems, and composts likewise have improved, assisting farmers with expanding yields. Presently, farming is at the beginning of one more transformation, at the core of which lie information and network. Artificial intelligence, analytics, connected sensors, and other arising advances could additionally increment yields, improve the efficiency of water and other inputs, and construct sustainability and flexibility across crop cultivation and animal husbandry.
Digitization has been the popular expression this year and innovation-driven arrangements have gradually begun changing all areas of the economy. The agriculture sector which adds to almost 20% of India’s GDP was a special case not long ago. The ascent of agri-tech has achieved better efficiencies, network, information sharing and different crucial as well as supporting exercises accessible at the click of a button.
Agricultural technology or Agro-technology is the process of using technological advancements as a part of agriculture for improving the yield, and profitability. The use of modern Agri-Tech Techniques can be helpful in reducing the losses for the farmers. Technological advancements provide a wide range of solutions for various agricultural problems like crop monitoring, insect protection, etc. With the adoption of proper technological advancements, all the above-mentioned problems can be resolved.
The tech mindfulness among farmers is on the ascent, driven by high internet penetration and versatile availability. This is one of the motors driving the area ahead. The government is likewise assuming a functioning part in area advancement by making incubators, awarding grants and focusing on public-private partnerships. Beginning with 43 Agri-tech new businesses in 2013, India can now flaunt in excess of 1,000 such new companies, and a significant number of them are on the way to becoming unicorns. The tech market for providing farm inputs is separated from everyone else expected to be just about as large as $1billion. Precision agriculture and farm management are supposed to have a turnover of $3.4 billion. Essentially, quality management and traceability are supposed to contribute a sum total of $3 billion.
The Govt. has likewise proposed a few projects, through which the farmers will actually want to settle on choices on what crop to grow, which sort of seed to utilize and what best advancements can be utilized to boost the yield. Farmers can likewise make a choice about whether to sell or store their produce and when and where and what cost to sell.
Alongside a legitimate adoption of innovations, laying out a computerized ecosystem for agriculture needs for different perspectives like interoperability, data governance, data quality, data standards, security and privacy, and so on.
Agritech in India
India is home to the world’s second-biggest population and a huge supporter of worldwide agricultural production. However, to satisfy the developing needs of a blossoming worldwide population, which is assessed to outperform 9.8 billion by 2050, India should make some major changes and take steps to support its agricultural sector. Taking into account that around 58% of the Indian people depend on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood, farm productivity and profitability should collectively and sustainably be improved to meet future demands.
The development of AgriTech in India has engaged numerous farmers to embrace new farming techniques that help efficiency and lessen the environmental effect. Innovative mediation and computerized change have led to accuracy farming which harnesses data, artificial intelligence, automation, sensors and drones to optimize farm production and returns. Farmers are presently teaming up with new businesses to send sensors and wireless gadgets to their fields that assist them with consistently observing soil health, and crop growth and detecting pests and diseases, thereby enabling them to take action as and when needed.
Technology can possibly jump these difficulties and lead to another modern and futuristic model. Directed by the development of Indian startups and supported by government mediation, the elements of farming in India are now evolving. Ready for disturbance, the Indian AgriTech area is projected to impel approximately US$ 20-25 billion by 2025. By utilizing technology, India can additionally further develop its agrarian and food frameworks while improving people’s livelihoods and producing healthier ecosystems. Nano-technology is changing Indian agriculture further and can make Indian farmers as useful as those in other areas of the planet. Nano innovations can likewise be utilized to improve soil properties and the removal of toxins.
Considering that about 58% of the Indian populace relies on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood, farm productivity and profitability should collectively and sustainably be improved to meet future demands.
Innovative Agricultural Technology in India
1. Automated Irrigation
Automated irrigation is finished through a water system regulator, that is utilized to work the programmed water system frameworks like lawn sprinklers and drip irrigation systems. The domestic irrigation controllers are for cultivating applications, and professional irrigation controllers are for more demanding agricultural applications.
Hydroponics is a method of horticulture and hydroculture. It involves the process of growing crops without soil. It is done by the use of mineral nutrient solutions in water that is obtained from various sources.
3. Soil Moisture Sensors
Soil moisture sensors are the sensors that are used to measure the water content in the soil. Soil moisture sensors typically refer to sensors that estimate water content. Moisture content in water might vary depending on environmental factors such as soil type, and temperature. There are tools to capture data related to moisture, soil conditions, weather, nutrients etc. at a very micro level so that farmers only have to use very specific fertilizers or agrochemicals in dedicated land areas instead of using everything on the entire land. This would save their input cost as well as maintain the fertility of the soil.
4. Agricultural Drone
An agricultural drone is a remote-controlled drone specialized with micro-sensors that is used in various agricultural aspects mostly in monitoring crop growth and crop production. The usage of an agricultural drone in agriculture can assist in gaining information on the growth stage of the crop and crop health.
5. Transaction opportunities creation
Farmers have limited options to do transactions in any vertical. For example, for input buying, they are dependent on a few local retailers and sometimes have to travel far to a different district or a different state altogether to explore better quality seeds. For cattle trading, their only options are local agents or animal trade fairs which are not very frequent. Similarly, for output selling, farmers don’t have a direct reach beyond the local aggregators to explore better prices for their produce. With technology coming into play, farmers will have more options to do their day-to-day business, be it in any domain.
Future of Agritech in India
Technological interventions in view of remote detecting, soil sensors, unmanned aerial surveying and market bits of knowledge, and so on, grant farmers to assemble, visualise and assess crop and soil health conditions at different stages of production, in a helpful and practical methodology. They can go about as an initial indicator to recognize likely moves and provide options to manage them promptly.
Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) algorithms can produce constant noteworthy bits of knowledge to assist with further developing harvest yield, control bugs, aid soil screening, give significant information to farmers and lessen their responsibility.
Blockchain innovation offers tamper-proof and precise data about farms, inventories, fast and secure exchanges and food tracking. Thus, farmers don’t have to be dependent on paperwork or files to record and store important data.
Measures for a successful implementation of Digital Agriculture in India :
- Renting and sharing platforms for agriculture equipment and machinery: – Owing to both constrained financial resources and small farm plots, the opportunity exists for digital platforms that offer equipment renting and sharing services instead of outright purchases.
- Academic support: – The local agricultural organisation and academic institutes regularly interact with farmers through various locally conducted programs and government initiatives. Training facilities provided by various academic institutes and agricultural organisations will improve digital adoption among farmers.
- Low-cost technology: – The average annual income of an Indian farmer is >US$ 1,000. This low income explains the precarious financial circumstances in which a typical farmer operates in India. Thus, lowering the cost of technology will help.
- Portable hardware: – As typical Indian farms are small, plug-and-play hardware has a better opportunity in the Indian market. Also, agricultural land leasing is widely prevalent under various farming arrangements, therefore a farmer farming on a specific plot of land may move to another farm plot next season.
As the Indian Agriculture and Allied sector are on the verge of adopting modern technologies, such as IoT, AI/ML and agri-drones for unmanned aerial surveying, Indian and foreign agritech players can play a vital role in supplying these advanced technologies to farmers.
Adopting a holistic ecosystem approach to address challenges faced by the Indian agricultural sector is of national interest, to achieve objectives, like doubling farmer incomes and sustainable development. Thus, a multi-stakeholder approach will be required for the wide-scale adoption of digital agriculture in India, with the government playing a key enabler role in the ecosystem.
The government has been a catalyst in the growth of the agritech sector. It has established the National Centre for Management and Agricultural Extension in Hyderabad (MANAGE).
The Department of Science and Technology, GOI, has organised a food and agri-business accelerator in association with a-IDEA, TBI of NAARM.
The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) was also introduced and implemented recently, with a major focus on conserving water and increasing irrigation coverage in the country. Under this scheme, Rs. 56,340 crore (US$ 7.64 billion) has been allocated for investments in end-to-end solutions for source creation, distribution, management, field application and extension activities.
The government is also planning to grant Rs. 2,000 crore (US$ 270 million) for the computerisation of the Primary Agricultural Credit Society (PACS), with the primary aim of benefitting cooperatives through digital technology.
The Indian government has lent a strong impetus to this sector and aims to double the income of farmers by 2022-23. Another initiative is the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), which facilitates the retrieval of data and data entry from web-based portals via a regular mobile phone (without using the Internet). They are operationalizing more than a dozen services of innovative technologies for farmers and other stakeholders in the supply chain. In addition, there have been many favourable government policies and initiatives such as PM-KISAN, PM-AASHA and PM-KMY among others that are uplifting farmers and benefiting stakeholders across the value chain. It seems that agritech is now uniquely poised for disruption via technology.
The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has developed major digital applications in order to boost technology adoption among farmers: –
- National Agriculture Market (eNAM): – Launched in April 2016, the National Agriculture Market (eNAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal that links the existing Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) and is, to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities. eNAM helps farmers sell products without the interference of any brokers or mediators, by generating competitive returns from their investment.
- Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Central Agri Portal: – Launched in January 2013, the DBT Agri Portal is a unified central portal for agricultural schemes across the country. The portal helps farmers adopt modern farm machinery through government subsidies.
Today, no sector is untouched by technology. Among them, agriculture is a sector on which the entire human life cycle depends and with the aid of digital tools and platforms, we will see a significant improvement in the coming years. Because of agri-tech, the agriculture sector of the country is set to undergo a transformation and remarkable changes will be seen. The agriculture sector depends on technology, agricultural machinery, food and fertilisers, irrigation and market system and in the coming years, Artificial Intelligence will help farmers in all these things. Agri-tech will play a crucial role in all processes ranging from sowing seeds in the field to harvesting the crops and selling the finished crop.
In view of the positive impact, the farming community will be further inclined to leverage digital tools, platforms and techniques to improve productivity, profitability and reduce costs. The penetration of smartphones and cheaper internet have already created a suitable ground for agri-tech adoption.
Automation in agriculture is an emerging subject across the world. In recent times, Artificial Intelligence has been seeing a lot of direct applications in farming AI-powered solutions will not only enable farmers to do more with less but will also improve quality and ensure faster go-to-market for crops.
Advances in computer vision, mechatronics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are enabling the development and deployment of remote sensing technologies to identify and manage plants, weeds, pests and diseases. This also provides a unique opportunity to develop intelligent seeding methods for precise fertilization. Artificial intelligence solutions can enable farmers not to only reduce wastage, but also to improve quality and ensure faster market access for the produce.