Agriculture and allied sectors are the primary source of livelihood for nearly 55 per cent of India’s population (Census 2011) but accounted only for approximately 17.8 per cent of the country’s Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2019-20.
About the scenario:
The average size of farm holdings in the country is just over 1 hectare, with small and marginal farmers holding nearly 86 per cent of the total. Small holders find it particularly difficult to invest in expensive technologies and other inputs that would improve efficiency.
Additionally, the existence of a large number of intermediaries across the value chain, challenges in access to credit and technology, limited sales channels, and lack of digital infrastructure have inhibited agricultural potential. These distinctive attributes of the agriculture sector in India have made it imperative to look towards policies that improve yield, simplify value chain networks, democratize digital infrastructure, and improve access to credit and insurance.
An important solution lies in the rapid adoption of agritech.
What do you mean by agritech?
It is defined here as technologies and tools that improve yield, efficiency and profitability by leveraging Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, drones, and sensors in agricultural processes to track, monitor, automate and analyse.
The predictive technologies to detect erratic weather, sensors to map the specific type of climate and soil in an area, and machine learning algorithms that determine the appropriate crops based on this data, can substantially improve the quality and quantity of yield.
In the dairy and livestock vertical, the use of sensors to monitor the health and nutrition of cattle and
drones to track herds can improve efficiency and traceability.
Therefore, the process of unleashing the true potential of agritech in the country would involve developing a synergistic relationship between the various stakeholders in the process, including the farmers themselves, enhancing investment and R&D to constantly improve and update solutions, and further improving the regulatory environment to ease accessibility of startups and other companies to create a robust ecosystem.