(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Farming 2.0: Digitising Agri Value Chain
(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Farming 2.0: Digitising Agri Value Chain
Farming 2.0: Digitising Agri Value Chain
Digital technologies hold tremendous potential to transform the Indian agricultural economy and impact the lives of Indian farmers and other stakeholders. Major challenges confronting Indian agriculture include unsustainable usage of resources, declining farm productivity, rapidly growing demand for high-quality and safe food, stagnating farm incomes and fragmented land holdings. These can be overcome through sustainable and scalable deployment of digital technologies and infrastructure.
Past Experiences of Digitalising Farming
Farmer’s portal of the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation is a platform for farmers to seek any information related to agriculture. Block level details related to soil fertility, storage, insurance, training, etc. are available in an interactive map. Users can also download farm friendly handbook, scheme guidelines, etc. Kisan call centre services launched by the Ministry of Agriculture took to harness the potential of ICT in agriculture. Entertaining more than 22,000calls daily, the call centre ensured uninterrupted service even during lockdown owing to the collective expertise of the team functioning from their home. IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL), IFFCO iMandi, m-kisan, e-sagu, e-Arik (e-Agriculture), e-Villages, e-Agri Kiosk and m4agriNEI of the Central Agricultural University, in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya states of North-east, Community Radio (CR), e-choupal, The Fisher Friend Mobile Application (FFMA) and Parry’s Corner by East India Distilleries (EID) Parry, are other initiatives which has helped in the creation of social networks among the farming community.
Recent Initiatives in Digitalising Agriculture
The Government of India has rolled out several other initiatives under the Digital India programme to help the farming community. In order to promote ease of agricultural exports from India, the government launched digital initiatives by Export Inspection Council (EIC). For this, three portals have been developed to reduce transaction time and cost in an effective and transparent manner for safe food export traceability, single laboratory for accreditation and approvals and for monitoring export alerts from importing regulators.
The government has launched a mobile application Meghdoot to help farmers by providing forecast relating to temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and direction, and how to take care of the crops and livestock. Kisan Suvidha Mobile App and Pusa Krishi Mobile App have 10,63,080 and 40,753 downloads respectively since their launch.
Agri Market APP is a mobile application been developed with an aim to keep farmers abreast with the crop prices and discourage them to carry-out distress sale.
AgroPad is an Al-powered technology helping farmer’s check soil and water health. AgroPad10, developed by IBM, is a paper device about the size of a business card. The microfluidics chip inside the card performs on the spot a chemical analysis of the sample, providing results in less than 10 seconds.
Challenges Faced by Farmers in Adopting Digitalisation in Agriculture:
There is no policy and operational guidelines to use digital media and ICTs for the agriculture digitalisation.
The capacity and skill in effectively using digital media and technologies among knowledge intermediaries (extension personnel) is limited.
The lack of timely information on farm inputs, unorganised credit, and absence of market linkages are the major hurdles faced by farmers in adopting new technologies.
In rural areas, the reach of e-technology is really poor, even the distribution of technology is uneven throughout the country.
Insufficient connectivity, along with lack of basic computer and smartphone usage skill and knowledge, high costs for services and less literacy hinder rapid development of digitisation in agriculture.
Despite the visible benefits of the new agricultural technologies, farmers either do not adopt them or it takes a long time for them to begin the adoption process and scaling up. But the truth is that the there is a need to demonstrate technology to the farmers so as to give them the confidence and belie in the new technologies.
The current scenario of pandemic has proved that the future of agriculture depends on its digital transformation. The key factors that will determine the success of digital farming in India are affordability of technology, ease of access and operations, easy maintenance of systems, timely grievance redressal and appropriate policy support.
For digital farming to succeed in India, the innovations must focus on lowering the cost of technology so that it is available and affordable for the smaller farmers, ensuring mobility and renting and sharing platforms for agriculture equipment and machinery.
Digitalisation of farming related reliable and quality data is of paramount importance to harness the potential of the digital agriculture initiatives.
More specifically, the full potential of ICT, big data, Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoTs), Block chain and Machine leaning and precision agriculture will need to be harnessed to the task of generating sustainable productivity growth, including resolving the water crisis, coping with climate change and for ensuring better market price.
The private sector can play a crucial role in expanding e-commerce and other platforms into food supply chains to standardise production, organise the farmers, and build logistics capacity in remote areas.
More and continuous long-term investment is needed in public sector to scale-up digitally connected and decentralised agricultural knowledge-technology-food processing supply chain with linkage to alternative logistics providers would increase resilience.
Additionally, agriculture related research academic institutions, agricultural extension service providing departments, agri-startups and agriprenuers, NGOs, Farmer Producer Organisations should also reorient themselves towards digital agriculture for the better impact.
There is also a need for robust research and development that also factors in last mile delivery, preferences, capacity and digital skill of the stakeholders, challenges, and socio-economic impact so that digital farming can empower Indian farmers in a meaningful way.