Technology In Agriculture

Aakash Ahuja
4 min readOct 19, 2022
  • Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India’s population
  • India has the world’s largest cattle herd (buffaloes)
  • India has the largest area planted to wheat, rice, and cotton, and is the largest producer of milk, pulses, and spices in the world
  • India is the second-largest producer of fruit, vegetables, tea, farmed fish, cotton, sugarcane, wheat, rice, cotton, and sugar
  • Agriculture sector in India holds the record for second-largest agricultural land in the world generating employment for about half of the country’s population
  • The agriculture and allied sector contributed to 14.2 per cent of the total exports from India in 2020–21

Problems in agriculture

Here are some major problems impacting the agriculture sector in India and that are being solved by technology.

Climate change

Increasing climate anomalies have greatly impacted yields all across the board.

Food wastage

Official stats of food wastage in India look timid. Estimated post-harvest wastages in non-perishable crops such as cereals, pulses and oilseeds are in the range of 4.6–9.9%; in perishables such as fruits and vegetables in the range of 4.6–15.9%. Unofficial numbers may be much higher.

Storage

The current availability of cold storage facility in India is highly skewed with nearly 70 per cent of the country’s total capacity limited to four states — Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab and Gujarat

Pricing, technical knowledge

Lack of transparency in pricing, technical know-how about soil, amount, time and timing of fertilizers, seed quality etc are major issues.

Technology in agriculture

As of today, India has over a 1000 agri-tech startups. While most of them address the supply chain problem through e-commerce models, many are moving ahead with innovative and technological solutions to solve some of the key problems in the agricultural sector.

Here are the various information technology solutions being used in agriculture to solve some of the major problems.

Supply chain management

This is the most favored problem across a lot of the startups we analyzed. From farm to plate solutions, to proecessed commodity supply chain management solutions, a wide range of solutions are using cloud and artificial intelligence and smart logistics to minimize time and cost of transporting agricultural goods to the end customer. Efficient supply chain solutions are bringing price transparency, managing demand and reducing wastage of food.

Drones

In 2022, the Government of India is planning to launch Kisan Drones for crop assessment, digitization of land records, spraying of insecticides and nutrients. Various drone startups are already operational. Micro climate and weather alerts While the climate cannot be controlled, better predictability of weather helps farmers manage activities like sowing and harvesting. Various startups are using data analytics to combine meteorological data, satellite imagery and other sources to provide weather and climate alerts for the next 1–2 weeks.

Precision farming

Precision farming means real time analysis of soil, plant and produce. Using IoT devices that transfer real time data from a farm to a cloud solution, various startups are now telling farmers what to grow, when to grow, amount and kind of fertilizer needed, soil conditions. Various blockchain solutions use satellite imagery to track changing soil conditions and help farmers manage activities.

Shelf monitoring

Compared to developed nations, India has a very high rate of food wastage in the perishable category. Shelf monitoring technologies help manage that. These are IoT sensors in a smart warehouse that can indicate if the food quality is deteriorating, and in most cases be able to manage the storage environment to prevent that and prolong food life and quality.

Smart sorting, grading, precision packaging

The best produce is exported. Artificial Intelligence is making the grading of farm produce more accurate and thereby increasing food quality and customer satisfaction. Precision sorting and packaging powered by artificial intelligence allow for optimizing packaging costs and type.

Benchmarking, quality, compliance

Combined with industry wide data, and solutions like geotagging, various industry wide benchmarking services are helping farmers gauge and thus enhance the quality of their produce for the markets they serve.

Finance, faster payments

Finance remains the backbone of the agriculture sector. Using collected data over produce, quality, revenues, various startups are bringing better financing solutions to farmers. Efficient supply chains are speeding up payment cycles for producers.

Government’s initiatives for increasing technology use in agriculture

  1. The Indian government has initiated Digital Agriculture Mission for 2021–25 for agriculture projects based on new technologies such as artificial intelligence, block chain, remote sensing and GIS technology, drones, robots and others.
  2. In September 2021, the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare signed five MoUs with CISCO, Ninjacart, Jio Platforms Limited, ITC Limited and NCDEX e-Markets Limited. This MoU will have five pilot projects, which will help farmers make decisions on the kind of crops to grow, variety of seeds to use and best practices to adopt to maximize yield.
  3. The Government of India is going to provide Rs. 2,000 crore (US$ 306.29 million) for computerization of Primary Agricultural Credit Society (PACS) to ensure cooperatives are benefitted through digital technology.
  4. 100% FDI in the agriculture sector in India is allowed through the automatic route in the following activities: Horticulture, floriculture, apiculture and farming of vegetables and mushrooms. Animal husbandry, fish farming, and aquaculture. Development of seeds.

*References

https://www.ibef.org/industry/agriculture-india https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/Bulletin/PDFs/02AR_170120226CD582783DB44FECB7A07AC238270E5F.PDF https://thewire.in/agriculture/india-agricultural-produce-wasted https://www.investindia.gov.in/

Conclusion

With pro-active government policies, and increasing expenditure around technology adoption the agriculture sector will continue to witness robust tailwinds. If you are looking to adopt technology for your agri business, we can help you. Write to us at hello@itmtb.com

Originally published at https://www.itmtb.com.

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