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Public Private Partnerships for Digitalisation in Rural India

  • Categories
    Yojana/Kurukshetra
  • Published
    27th Jan, 2021
  • It is expected that in the next ten years, there will be dramatic changes in the agrifood system spearheaded by advanced digital technologies like Blockchain, Internet of Things (loT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Immerse Reality, etc.
  • Major transformations of agricultural systems, rural economies, communities and natural resource management will be required for digitalisation of rural areas to achieve its full potential.
  • The rural segment could broadly benefit from the raising farmers' incomes and boosting their income security, one of the highest priorities for the government, this can be aided by three digital themes: - Digital financing and insurance payouts enabled by consolidating information and facilitating credit-scoring and yield forecasting models using satellite and weather data.
  • The rural economy contributes about 46 percent to the national income. So far, the rural economy had been an informal and cash-oriented with most of the rural working population engaged in the "Earn and Pay" segment.

Government Initiatives

  • Kishan Suvidhais an omnibus mobile app developed to help farmers get relevant information instantly. The app provides information on various details such as weather, market prices, seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, etc.
  • Farmer Portal is envisaged to make available relevant information and services to the farming community and private sector through the use of information and communication technologies, to supplement the existing delivery channels provided for by the department.
  • mKisanSMS Portal has been conceptualised to give a quantum leap in coverage of farmers and geographical area in a timely, specific, holistic and need based knowledge dissemination.
  • NREGA soft envisions implementing e-Governance across State, District and three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions. It provides information to citizen in compliance with the right to information Act (RTI Act).
  • Pradhan MantriGramin Digital SakshartaAbhiyaan (PMGDISHA): PMGDISHA is a scheme to make six crore persons in rural areas, across States/UTs, digitally literate, reaching to around 40 percent of rural households by covering one member from every eligible household by 31st March, 2019.
  • Pradhan Mantri Jan-DhanYojana (PMJDY) envisages universal access to banking facilitiesat least one basic banking account in every household, financial literacy, access to credit, insurance and pension facility.
  • BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) is an app that makes payment transactions simple, easy and quick using Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
  • Crop Insurance Mobile App can be used to calculate the insurance premium for notified crops based on area, coverage amount and loan amount in case of loanee farmer.
  • e-Panchayatis an e-Governance initiative for the rural sector providing comprehensive software solution attempting automation of Gram Panchayat functions.
  • E-NAM Portal provides a single window service for all APMC related information and services.
  • PusaKrishi app helps the farmers to find easy solutions to problems in their farm fields and get information about weather and accordingly take measures to save crops.
  • Soil Health Card aims at promoting Integrated Nutrient Management (INM).
  • Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana is designed to provide continuous power supply to the entire rural India.
  • GARV Grameen Vidyutikaran Mobile App provides real-time updated data of ongoing electrification process to all users/stakeholders and provides information about Government schemes and electrification data.

Benefits of Digitalisation

  • To Get Skilled: With the activation of internet facility new skills sets from different e-learning courses to accessing large number of books etc., could be done.
  • Transform their way of working: The manual work and process need to be transformed into an automated process which can be done by widespread digitization through the medium of a software.
  • Digitalisation of Education: Digital access is not only cheap and effective but also make it available to a larger mass of audience regardless of the terrain.
  • Ensure Safety and Security: Digital technology also helps in providing safety and security.
  • Digitalisation of Agriculture: increasing use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to support the transmission of localized information and services.
  • Mobile apps: Mobile apps and other agri-based information would speed up its outreach to the farming community and could be a final game-changer in the long run.
  • Transportation: Transportation of agri produce can be made efficient.
  • Valuable Platform: “KisanRath” is being seen as a valuable platform in ensuring uninterrupted supply linkages between farmers, warehouses, FPOs, APMC mandis and intra-State and inter-State buyers.

Public Private Partnerships -lending a Crucial Helping Hand

  • The government and regulatory bodies have rolled out several policy and financial initiatives aimed at inclusive rural growth with notable ones including the Aadhaar, a unique biometric identifier, Jan Dhan, the zero balance savings bank accounts that help direct transfer of social benefit payments, BHIM- the digital payment infrastructure BHIM.
  • It is at this juncture that the government, regulatory bodies, financial service providers and fintech companies need to collaborate and set the ball rolling. Some basic steps that need to be taken in this direction include:
    • To facilitate digitalization of rural incomes.
    • Make it possible to convert digital income into cash.
    • To focus on issues related to safeguarding digital payments and digital identities putting in place consumer protection rules is critical.
    • Targeted financial literacy and capability training can have a positive impact in such areas by increasing savings and promoting financial skills.
    • Fintechs can put new technologies to work in order to shrink distances, expand customer segments, offer customised experiences, and bring in efficiency.

A collaborative and mutually beneficial model that unifies the advantages of both physical and digital is therefore the answer to address the real challenges on the ground. The PPP model will ensure that the agricultural sector can still remain as a primary engine of rural growth and poverty reduction in India by bringing together the collective power of all the stakeholders in the agricultural ecosystem-the government, private companies, and even research institutions.

Key Areas where PPP model could be used:

  • Providing Cutting Edge Tools: Knowledge about crop rotation, weather patterns, fertiliser, high-yield crops, pest management, waste water utilisation, nutrition use etc. would all be available.
  • Insulating from Vagaries of Nature: The public -private partnerships that can pull out the sector from inclement weather, enable farmers cover themselves through insurance could be the critical lifesavers. The Maharashtra government has rolled out its Maharashtra Public-Private Partnership for Integrated Agricultural Development (PPPIAD) project. PPPIAD, a successful PPP enterprise that is developing integrated value chains for selected crops through PPP and co-investment.
  • Helping the Food Processing Industry: The government’s role besides funding through the partnership can also provide tax rationalisation, duty exemptions, increase in public spending, priority sector lending and foreign direct investment (FDI).
  • Agri-startups: Agritech Startups are providing relevant and innovative solutions to a number of challenges faced all across the agricultural value chain.

Conclusion

  • The success of a new and efficient India hinges on the inclusion of rural areas into a digital framework and make the benefits of technology accessible to all sections of society.
  • Digitalisation can help rural India in e-governance services, banking and financials, education and healthcare, mobile/DTH recharge, e-ticketing, online shopping, etc.
  • Digital Society is broader than 'digital economy.' A digital society integrates all social spheres and lends a competitive edge to the overall economy.
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