April , 2024
Unleashing agricultural potential through digitalisation
23:30 pm

Kuntala Sarkar

In an era where technological advancements are reshaping industries, agriculture stands on the cusp of a digital revolution. Digitalization in agriculture holds the promise of transforming traditional farming practices into highly efficient, data-driven systems that can enhance productivity, sustainability, and profitability. Leading technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain are at the forefront of this transformation.

Precision farming emerges as a key area where digitalization can revolutionize agriculture. By harnessing technologies like GPS, drones, and sensors, farmers can gather real-time data on weather patterns, crop health, soil conditions, and resource utilization. Soil samples are collected from various locations within the agricultural field, measuring parameters such as pH levels, nutrient content, organic matter content, moisture levels, texture, and soil compaction. Through the application of AI, these data can optimize farming practices, including precise irrigation and fertilization, leading to higher yields and reduced negative environmental impact.

Digitalization facilitates smart farming techniques like automated machinery and robotic systems capable of tasks such as planting, spraying, harvesting, and pest control. These technologies not only reduce manual labor but also minimize operational costs while maximizing output. IoT and blockchain technologies can monitor the farming process, including livestock health and inventory levels, enabling farmers to make informed real-time decisions.

Currently, advanced European countries and the USA utilize AI technology to optimize the agricultural supply chain - from production to distribution. AI-powered platforms facilitate seamless coordination and logistics planning, ensuring efficient transportation and storage policies that minimize waste and improve market access for farmers. AI-based decision support systems offer personalized recommendations and insights, integrating data from multiple sources such as weather forecasts, soil analyses, and market trends to assist farmers in optimal crop management, resource allocation, and risk mitigation.

In India, mobile applications and online platforms equipped with chatbots and virtual assistants deliver real-time information on crop management, weather forecasts, market prices, and government schemes, aiding farmers in improving decision-making and productivity. Public-private partnerships in this realm are also gaining momentum.

The Indian government actively promotes the adoption of digital technologies in agriculture through initiatives such as the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) and the Agricultural Development Fund (ADF). The 'Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income' (DFI) emphasizes the role of Digital Technology. The government has finalized the core concept of the India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA) framework to lay the foundation for innovative agri-focused solutions. Funds from the National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) and the National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGP-A) are allocated for projects involving modern technologies like AI and ML. The Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) for agriculture, announced by the government, offers farmer-centric solutions through relevant information for crop planning, crop health, improved access to farm inputs, credit, insurance, and market intelligence.

Under India's leadership, the Agriculture Working Group (AWG) of the G20 delineated four key priorities last year: ensuring food security and nutrition, fostering sustainable agriculture while financing green and climate-resilient practices, bolstering infrastructure to support small and marginal farmers, and prioritizing digitalization for agricultural advancement. Efforts such as the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) and the Group on Earth Observations Global Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM) were recognized as pivotal endeavors aimed at enhancing transparency in agricultural markets.

India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant mentioned, “Our ambition should be to transform agriculture, the agri-food sector into an attractive and lucrative modern business enterprise. This needs to be done by keeping the farmers at the core of this digital revolution, by facilitating affordable access to an inclusive digital infrastructure and by exploring digital tools that cater to the needs of the agri sector.” India has above 1000 start ups in the agri-sector at present which are transforming the sector rapidly. 

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