Technology is delivering results in India’s agriculture sector

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Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. It contributes around 17% to GDP and employs more than 50% of the total workforce. Despite this, agriculture growth has been sluggish and farmers have failed to get fair value for their produce. The Green and White Revolution have helped India attain self-sufficiency in food-grain and milk respectively but subsequent governments have failed to address the systemic issues prevalent in the agriculture sector. Instead, governments have relied on subsidies and farm loan waiver to achieve short-term goals without any concrete policy measures to make farming sustainable. These short-term measures help farmers but have a cascading effect on the overall state of the economy. With growing dependence on monsoon, the state of agriculture and farmers continues to be dismal thereby making agriculture non-profitable.

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The problems in agriculture are many but the current government’s emphasis on technology towards making agriculture sustainable and profitable will go a long way in addressing some of the key components.

In Agriculture, availability of real time information at the right time is a major issue. Lack of information at proper time causes huge loss to farmers. Keeping in mind the need to make farming more sustainable and viable, technology is one of the top priorities of the government. There still exist large productivity gaps in the potential and the realized farm output and with development and infusion of new technologies our farm production will go up to meet the rising domestic food demand.

Technology can help improve farmers’ lives in a number of ways – to know the health of the soil and help him choose from a variety of crops that can be grown; forecasting the seasonal conditions in advance; intensification and diversification of farming in order to increase productivity and farmers’ income; diversify towards other allied occupations as well like dairy and forestry; conservation of water, rain water harvesting, construction of check dams, drip and sprinkler irrigation; infrastructure like rural roads, dependable quality power, godowns, cold storage facilities, refrigerated vans and market yards; food processing; timely credit facilities at reasonable interest rates and farmer-friendly insurance policies.

Many experts believe that the future of sustainability relies mainly on the agricultural sector’s ability to continually develop and improve technology. Types of Agriculture Technology:

  • Development of nutritional efficiencies
  • Farming equipment
  • Software for feed processing, farm management, and production
  • Development of pesticides
  • Genetic modification techniques
  • Electronic Marketing

Over the centuries, as farmers have adopted more technology in their pursuit of greater yields, the belief that ‘bigger is better’ has come to dominate farming. Keeping an eye on it, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare has initiated technological intervention in various aspects of agriculture like Soil health card, animal husbandry, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna etc and also launched five major mobile apps for the welfare of farmers which can be downloaded from google play store as well as from MKisan.

Skill Development in Agriculture

For the first time during 2016-17, skill training programme are being conducted by DAC&FW from Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna [RKVY] funds in collaboration with Extension Division of ICAR and Agriculture Skill Council of India [ASCI]. Also, the government is promoting Geo-Tagging of agriculture assets created under RKVY. More than 1.5 Lakh infrastructure/assets have been created under this scheme in horticulture, fisheries, dairy and livestock breeding. With the help of space technology, farmers will be able to utilize pesticide/residue testing labs, storage infrastructure and market-related information on time.

Agriculture Marketing

Towards this, the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare has initiated and is implementing various schemes for our farmers. For strengthening the Agricultural Market Information System [AMIS] in India using innovative methods and digital technology, e-NAM is a live example of Agricultural Technology in India. eNAM is a device to create national network of physical mandis which can be accessed online. It seeks to leverage the physical infrastructure of the mandis through an online trading portal, enabling buyers situated even outside to participate in trading at the local level.

Animal Husbandry

Agriculture technology advances and methods of modern farming focus on efficiency and increased output. Farming technology helps address a variety of problems livestock farmers face, including water scarcity, pollution from manure and the animal’s access to nutrition. The goal of Agricultural Technologies area: Reducing pollution; managing water consumption; maintaining the health of livestock and crops; and Promoting biodiversity.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna

The inclusion of technological interventions will address the issues of large number of Crop Cutting Experiments [CCE] being conducted during short harvesting window with limited manpower.  Such technology based solutions will help in achieving the objective with limited resource, more accuracy, resulting in timely settlement of claims and will further facilitate to reduce the unit area of insurance to a level lower than the present village/village panchayat level.

Soil Health card Scheme [SHC]

Through the help of technology, Soil health card is providing information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil along with recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.

Dissemination of technology to farmers and stakeholders

Radio and Doordarshan has been a key partner in the dissemination of Information and Communication Technology to farmers and other stakeholders. Through this, it has been working for providing information to farmers for decades. India is going through a phase of Digital Revolution and Mobile Revolution. A farmer can get his all queries answered by calling free on Kisan Call Center [18001801551]. If the farmers are illiterate or less educated they can also receive recorded messages.

The apps have helped farmers access a wide range of information.

  1. Kisan SuvidhaThe farmers can obtain information sitting at home about weather, market prices, crop diseases, identification & treatment of pests along with the advice from agricultural experts.
  2. PUSA KrishiInformation about improved verities of agriculture and horticulture as well as latest techniques.
  3. Agri MarketInformation about prevailing prices in the mandis spread within 50 kms.
  4. Crop InsuranceAll information related to crop insurance.
  5. Crop Cutting Experiment [CCE]For conducting crop cutting experiments.

We have reliably learnt how technology in Agriculture can help in the production and marketing for the benefit of farmers and consumers. The prime power to decide when, to whom, where and at what price to sell the produce should lie with the farmer. The system that exists between the farmer and the end-consumer is slowly being scrapped through the use of technology.

About the Author

Bidwan Kishore Raymohapatra has Master of Business Administration in Management from Biju Patnaik University of Technology, Orissa. He has more than 8 years of experience in research and methodology, out of this around 4 years experience in Agriculture Sector. He possesses good knowledge on Business Management of Publication and Information System work in Agriculture Ministry.