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Reinventing Indian agriculture through IoT and AI

  • Category
    Economy
  • Published
    3rd Dec, 2022

Context

Cutting-edge technologies in AI and IoT are enabling the agricultural sector to overcome the challenges of productivity, quality, and carbon emission with enhanced profitability.

Performance of Indian agriculture

  • Record Production of Foodgrains: During the last decade India has achieved record production of food grains and oilseeds.
  • Diversification towards Horticulture Crops: The yield-driven growth in foodgrain production in the aftermath of the green revolution made diversification of area towards high-value horticultural crops.
  • Growing Importance of Allied Activities: The allied sector has steadily gained importance in the last decade led by strong growth in animal husbandry and fish production.
  • Changing Dynamics of Agriculture Trade: India has recorded the highest ever agricultural product export in 2021-22.

Emergence of the Agri-tech segment

  • Rapid Transformation: Indian Agri ecosystem has gone through a rapid transformation, with the emergence of the Agri-tech segment.
  • It has resulted in production increasing and logistics turning efficient.

Reforms and government initiatives

  • National Agriculture Market (eNAM): A pan-India electronic trading platform.
  • India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA): An Agri-stack system to realize higher income and better profitability for farmers.
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): Aimed at increasing Agri output by integrating sustainable technologies)
  • National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGP-A): for funding modern technologies including AI, ML, drones, and Blockchain).
  • Surge of start-ups: The Agri-tech segment, has attracted several start-ups that are offering technology-based solutions, thereby increasing operational efficiencies.
  • Digital Agriculture: India’s Budget 2022-23 also contains provisions to support ‘digital agriculture.
    • This will integrate public sector research with private agritech players within the agricultural value chain.
  • Surge in funding: India has received a total funding of $1.6 billion in Agri-tech startups till 2021, making it the third largest in the world with regard to such funding.
  • Creating investment opportunities: Private equity investments in agri-tech startups between 2017 and 2020 amounted to ?66 billion, with a growth rate of over 50 percent.
    • Private Equity Investment is a type of alternative investment in which the investors' purchases shares in privately-held businesses (not a part of the stock exchange).

Major digital technologies

  • Internet of things (IoT): IoT is used in intelligent farming with various sensors for light, humidity, soil moisture, temperature, crop health monitoring, etc.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS): Used to analyze complex spatial data like rainfall, topography, soil elevation, slope aspect, wind direction, flooding, and erosion.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) and data science: These technologies contribute towards and benefit the farmers by proven data analysis and predictions, Crucial agricultural data collected by IoT devices and ML algorithms are processed and channelized with data science.
  • Blockchain: Helps farmers ensure the safety of their crops, preventing theft and fraud, efficiently managing the supply chain, and balancing the food ecosystem.
  • Automation: Machine performing agricultural operations acknowledges farm automation/smart farming and eases out the workload on human resources.

Challenges Ahead

  • Climate Change
  • Agricultural Waste Management (example-Stubble Burning)
  • Fragmented Landholdings
  • Disguised Unemployment
  • Food Inflation and Volatility in Food Prices

Major trends that are paving the way

  • Smart and technology-driven resource management: Geotagging of assets under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) scheme can be monitored through the Bhuvan app for better implementation across the country.
  • Modernization of the Agri supply chain: To minimize the supply chain losses, efforts are being put to enhance the efficacy of operations by focusing on critical factors such as quality, traceability, logistics, and distribution.
  • Climate risk mitigation strategy: Several initiatives are being taken to create a climate risk mitigation strategy as India suffers from huge crop losses owing to the erratic weather conditions in the country.
  • Government initiatives in digital farming: The adoption of innovative technologies is becoming one of the major driving forces for increasing productivity and promoting agricultural development.
  • Prevalence and digitizing farm collectives as FPOs: FPOs help in creating opportunities for better credit facilities, insurance terms, post-harvest management (PHM) infrastructure for quality management, precision agriculture solutions for better crop management, etc.
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