Agriculture in India is the core sector for food security, nutritional security, and sustainable development & for poverty alleviation. It contributes approx. 14 % of GDP. Milestones in agriculture development in India includes: Green revolution, Evergreen revolution, Blue revolution, White revolution, yellow revolution, Bio technology revolution and the most recent one is Information and communication technology revolution.
In the past, Indian agriculture faced a formidable challenge to grow more food, but it faces an even more difficult challenge today and for the future: to grow more sustainably and inclusively. Major challenges confronting Indian agriculture include declining total productivity, diminishing and degrading natural resources, a rapidly growing demand for food (not just for quantity but also for quality), stagnating farm incomes, fragmented land holdings, and unprecedented climate change. It has been established that technology adoption modernizes farmers’ production practices and leads to uniform annual returns for farmers, reduced risk of crop failure, and increased yields.
IT supports new methods for precision agriculture like computerized farm machinery that applies for fertilizers and pesticides. Farm animals are fed and monitored by electronic sensors and identification systems. Selling or buying online began to become popular in the world. However, it’s most important role remains communication, and the Internet has provided us with an ideal opportunity to do so.
Central, state governments and private organisations have taken ICT measures for agriculture extension which include ITC- e-choupal, Kisan Kerala, Aaqua, Rice knowledge management portal , e-krishi, Mahindra Kisan Mitra, IFFCO Agri-portal, Village knowledge centers (VKCs)- M.S Swaminathan research foundation (MSSRF), village resource centers (VRCs)- Indian Space research organization, etc.
Direct applications of digital technology include remote sensing (via satellites), geographic information systems, crop and soil health monitoring, and livestock and farm management, among other applications. At the preharvest stage, digital technology can recommend crop and input selection and assist in obtaining credit and insurance. At the on-farm stage, there is need for weather advisories and disease- and pest-related assistance; and at the post-harvest stage, real-time data on both domestic and export markets are needed. The growth of competitive markets and demand for consistent food quality is making the adoption of such tech-based solutions imperative for the Indian farmer. Much of the scope for application and innovation remains to be exploited. The application of digital technology in agriculture has been instrumental in promoting data generation as well as the advanced analytics that allow farmers to make smart decisions about farming and to benefit from an economical use of inputs and labour.
The agriculture sector has attracted large conglomerates, leading IT companies, investors, and young innovators in India; the ecosystem for technology and digital solutions is expanding at an impressive pace. Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), one of India’s leading producers of tractor s and far m equipment, is innovating alongside expanding its core business. M&M’s Trringo, a mobile-based app enabling farmers to rent tractors, is a unique example of lever-aging technology to help farmers use machinery without having to make the large investment of buying tractors.
Digital technology in Indian agriculture is not about big box solutions only. A large number of young entrepreneurs have ventured into this sector to tackle specific challenges. The technology thrust of these ventures has been on reducing the time duration of crop cycles, saving on water and energy, reducing the usage of agro-chemicals, automating for efficient farm management, strengthening farmer market link-ages, and improving cold chain logistics for higher value addition.
Technology will continue to play an important role while the dynamics of the agriculture sector changes and produces new challenges. With the private sector playing an increasingly important role in investments, operations, and expertise, agriculture will gain immensely as the public sector catalyses these efforts.
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