Agriculture, like every other industry or sector, is on the verge of becoming entirely digital.
AIoT (Agriculture Internet of Things), AI, Machine Learning, Block Chain, Big Data, Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing, Drones, Robots, and automated farm machinery are already being used in India.
These technologies have the potential to improve production, ensure quality, optimize resource use, lower farming expenses, and increase farm and farmer revenue.
Push Towards New Technologies
Recognizing the relevance of these new technologies in achieving the goal of doubling farmers’ incomes, a committee constituted for the purpose (the DFI committee) advised that the Government of India use them.
The Indian government has updated its national e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGPA) in June 2020 to include support for pilots incorporating the usage of these new technologies.
Pilots In States Involving Digital Technologies
As a result, 11 states and union territories asked the Indian government for funding, which was granted. These pilots are fascinating, and they have taken place all throughout India at various stages.
Arunachal Pradesh has launched a pilot project to develop a resilient supply chain management solution based on cutting-edge digital technology, after recognizing the need for one during the state’s pandemic-induced lockdown and subsequent supply chain management crisis.
Bihar has a pilot project for exploring irrigation automation techniques. The pilot project in Meghalaya is focused on the creation of a crop pest surveillance system using new technologies.
The effort in Odisha intends to create a farmer database. Punjab has pilots on Crop and Soil Digital Algorithms for Crop Growth Monitoring, Crop Yield, and Soil Quality at Farm Level Using Remote Sensing, GIS, and Machine Learning Techniques, as well as Precision Irrigation in Punjab’s major cropping systems Using Artificial Intelligence and Sub-surface Drip System.
Federated Farmers Database
During the pandemic, another unique move was the creation of the first ever federated farmers’ database at the national level. Farmers’ data, farmland data, and associated data were kept in separate silos by the Indian government.
A database was steadily constructed, incorporating data from various schemes such as PMFBY (crop insurance scheme) and Soil Health Cards, using the PM-Kisan scheme as a framework.
These were cross-checked against the land record database, which is another publicly accessible database.
As a result, despite the pandemic-related delays, a database containing the data of roughly 55 million farmers has been created, and the work is still underway. When finished, it will be the world’s largest and most diverse database of farmers.
Development Of PoCs On Services And Solutions To The Farmers Based On Data
Another important initiative recently launched is the participation of India’s leading agricultural technology, agriculture and start-up companies in the creation of PoC (Proof of Concept).
The Indian government has partnered with five companies: Microsoft, Amazon Internet Services, Agribazaar, Patanjali Organic Research Institute, and ESRI India. The government shares a portion of data (100 villages or 3 districts) with these partners.
At the end of the MoU period, GOI would evaluate the services and solutions developed by the partners using the data and if these services/solutions are found to be beneficial to the farmers, it might take up the simplest services and scale them up at the national level.
Thus, this permits the government to tap into the big talent that’s available with Indian startups and use their talents for benefiting our farmers.
Development Of India Digital Ecosystem For Agriculture (IDEA)
The Agriculture Ministry is involved in creating a nationwide architecture for the Digital Eco-system in the Agriculture sector similar to the UPI.
IDEA is expected to ‘lay down a framework for public digital infrastructure in the Agriculture sector, outline the principles and standards and act as a catalyst of the digital agriculture ecosystem in the country with the goal of building a National Digital Agriculture Ecosystem, elevating Indian Agriculture to higher levels of efficiency and productivity, and improving the welfare and incomes of the farmers’ (IDEA concept paper).
The Government of India has welcomed the participation of private individuals and organizations to utilize the enormous talent that is available outside the government.
Startups, academic institutions, research bodies, think tanks, and specialists should all contribute by developing novel services, solutions, and on-the-ground deployments to these efforts.
We should work together to develop services and solutions that improve the lives of farmers by utilizing new and developing technologies.