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Farming 2.0: Digitising Agri Value Chain

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  • Published
    27th Jan, 2021
  • Digital technologies are most important recent innovations in terms of all actors in the agri-food chain.
  • It not only assists in primary production but also extend support from food supply chain management to new business development.
  • Digital agriculture could help farmers to be more precise with inputs through precise weather forecasts or sensors scanning the soil.
  • Additionally, through the use of robotics or autonomous machines, farmers will be able to curb down labor costs which might lead to unemployment in the sector.

Leveraging Social Media in Agri Value Chain

  • There is a growing focus on the farm-to-fork movement. Since social media is an open dialogue, it enables users to express interest, or disinterest, in products, services or businesses in a public forum.
  • The same level of engagement with social media can benefit those further up the supply chain as well, as increasing number of farmers and farm-based businesses.
  • A farmers-network in India called Harvesting Farmer Network (HFN) with mobile application provides a virtual support group advice on crops and agricultural practices.
  • The HFN mobile application is useful to get farm information, advisory, mandi prices of India's important mandis and farm produce. The application is also helpful buying and selling by farmers themselves.

Mobile and Internet Penetration in India

  • Internet and mobile usage in India is all set to cross the 900-million mark by 2023.
  • Digital India, launched in 2015 aims towards the promotion of digital literacy and creation of digital infrastructure for empowering rural communities.
  • The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to support the transmission of localised information and services working towards making farming socially, economically and environmentally sustainable, while contributing to the delivery of nutritious and economical food for all - this comprises Digital Agriculture.

Recent Initiatives in Digitalising Agriculture

  • To promote ease of agricultural exports from India, 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.
  • 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.
  • The iTEAMS, Meghalaya is an e-extension programme for market-oriented, cloud-based facilitation and farm advisory service that connects farmers to markets through real time agro advisories, affordable logistics, and market information.
  • As per the eNAM portal of Ministry of Agriculture as on 16 November, 2020, 1000 regulated markets are linked with the e-National Agriculture Market.
  • Agri Market APP is a mobile application been developed with an aim to keep farmers abreast with the crop prices and discourage them to carryout distress sale.
  • AgroPad is an AI-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.
  • The Government of India recently launched the 'Swamitva scheme' under which drones will draw a digital map of every property falling within the geographical limits of a village and demarcate the boundaries of every revenue area.
  • In 2018, the Karnataka government launched "Plantix", to smartly detect pests, plant diseases, and nutrient deficiencies.

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
  • The lack of timely information on farm inputs, unorganised credit, and absence of market linkages.
  • In rural areas, the reach of e-technology is really poor.
  • Lack ofbasic computer and smartphone usage skill and knowledge, high costs for services and less literacy.

Way Forward

  • 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.
  • More specifically, the full potential of ICT, big data, Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (loTs), Block chain and Machine leaning and precision agriculture will need to be harnessed to the task of generating sustainable productivity growth.
  • The private sector can play a crucial role in expanding e-commerce and other platforms into food supply chains.
  • More and continuous long-term investment is needed in public sector.
  • Agriculture related research-academic institutions NGOs, Farmer Producer Organisations should also reorient themselves towards digital agriculture for the better impact.

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