Transformational tech solutions are on the rise in the agriculture sector, with more than 1,300 start-ups emerging with the aim of addressing the untapped potential of the agri-tech sector. By 2021, India is set to receive an investment of over USD 1.6 billion in agri-tech, the third largest globally.
Due to its high demand in India and the global market, the agritech industry is one of the most important pillars for building a sustainable future. The Economic Survey of India 2022-23 highlights that India’s agriculture sector has grown by 4.6% in the last six years, with over 1000 agri-tech start-ups emerging in the sector. Infrastructural development plays an important role in building a strong agri-tech sector.
In the modern age of technology, it is not wise to ignore technology in the agriculture sector. Therefore, the need of the hour is to re-evaluate the importance and challenges of agri-technology in India.
Role of technology in agricultural transformation?
- Role of Drone:
Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), have the potential to significantly transform agriculture and bring about various changes. Drones have many applications in aerial seeding, pesticide spraying, and remote data collection for research.
- Role of Agri-Start-ups:
Agri tech start-ups can play a vital role in bringing about agricultural transformation by introducing innovative technology and modern practices in the agriculture sector. Agritech start-ups can contribute to agricultural transformation by improving agricultural techniques, increasing efficiency, access to finance, etc.
- Precision Agriculture:
Technologies like GPS, drones and sensors are being used to monitor crops, soil and weather conditions. This allows farmers to make data-driven decisions and optimize resource management such as water and fertilizer use.
- Farm equipment:
Mechanization has been an important factor in improving the productivity of the agricultural sector. Modern farm machinery such as tractors, harvesters and seed drills have enabled farmers to increase their efficiency and reduce labor costs.
Biotechnology has been used to develop crops that are resistant to pests and diseases, drought resistant and have increased yields.
This has resulted in increased productivity, decreased crop losses, and Better quality crops.
- Food Processing and Preservation:
Technology has enabled the development of food processing and preservation techniques that ensure food is safe and has a long shelf life. This has reduced food waste and ensured that crops can be stored and transported more efficiently.
- Market access:
Technology has enabled farmers to have better access to markets, both locally and internationally. The Internet and e-commerce have made it possible for farmers to connect with buyers and sell their products directly, bypassing middlemen and increasing profits.
Steps to be taken?
- Digital Agriculture Mission (DAM) Initiatives:
It was launched in September 2021 to help agri-tech start-ups by leveraging advances in cloud computing, earth observation, remote sensing, data and AI/ML models.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare plans to create ‘AgriStack’ – a compendium of technology-based interventions in agriculture.
- Unified Farmers Service Forum (UFSP):
UFSP is a combination of core infrastructure, data, applications and tools that enables seamless interoperability of various public and private IT systems in the agriculture ecosystem across the country.
- Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) Scheme:
The SMAM scheme was launched in 2014-15 with the objective of increasing the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and in areas and difficult areas where availability of farm power is less.
With Agri-Tech in India?
- Limited Digital Literacy:
Despite India’s progress in digitization, many farmers lack digital literacy and access to technology, making it challenging to adopt agri-tech solutions.
- High Upfront Cost:
Many agri-tech solutions require significant upfront investment, which can be a significant barrier for smallholder farmers who may not have the resources to invest.
- Fragmented land holdings:
Most farmers in India have small and fragmented land holdings, making it difficult to adopt large-scale mechanization solutions that are more cost-effective.
- Limited Infrastructure:
Limited availability of infrastructure, such as electricity and internet connectivity, can hinder the adoption and effectiveness of agri-tech solutions.
- Inadequate Government Policies:
Government policies and programs to promote agri-technology are often inadequate, inconsistent or poorly implemented, hindering their effectiveness.
- Lack of Cooperation:
Lack of collaboration among stakeholders, including farmers, private sector players and the government, can limit the development and adoption of effective agro-tech solutions.