Digitizing and Speeding Up Agriculture Development In India
In order to transform the entire ecosystem of public services through the use of information technology, the Government of India has launched the Digital India programme on 1 July 2015 by the Prime Minister of India Sri Narendra Modi with the vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
Various initiatives are taken to transform India into a digital India and Agriculture is not left behind.
Technology Revolution in India is already catching on with increasing government and venture capital investments pouring into supporting startups working on real-use cases addressing unique challenges like traffic management, surveillance and safety, smart homes in urban settings and so on.
There is also a growing opportunity in the agriculture sector that stands to improve lives, make India a true leader in Climate-Smart Agriculture and revolutionize the way farmers plant, fertilize and harvest crops.
India is an agrarian economy with agriculture supporting 60% of our population. Indian agriculture is highly dependent on human labour and good rainfall. While most developed economies have mechanised farming and reduced dependency on rains through state interventions and good planning, Indian farmers still plod along with obsolete farming techniques to support a growing population. Yet the contribution of this major sector to GDP has been steadily declining and currently stands at 15%. This stagnant state of affairs has triggered action from entrepreneurs and startups who are introducing technology to farming in new ways.
The major Indian agri-tech startups can be categorised into -
Agri Market Place: Starups in this category provide price alerts, agricultural news, government mandi prices with information available in local languages as well. These startups also connects farmers to sellers and facilitates price discovery through discussion.
Digital Farm Management: Another category of startups primarily focusing on farm digitisation. They encourage farmers to manage their farms more prudently and profitably. Using cutting edge technology like big data, geospatial analytics, Data Analytics and Machine Learning. They tend to provide farmers with an overview of their entire operations from production, pest control, inventory management and tracking.
Climate-Smart Precision Farming: The third category of startups helps growers in making data-driven farming decision and taking guess work out of farming. These startups are using on-farm sensing technology to records various soil, environment and crop parameters and uses artificial intelligence and data science to make on-farm predictions.
Some of the major benefits we can get from Climate-Smart precision farming are -
* Costs savings in terms of water, energy, fertilizers, and pesticides.
* Product losses prevention by controlling weather conditions to adequate harvest times. Optimizing farmers daily tasks by automating processes.
* Getting real-time alerts about crop’s conditions to make adjustments to reach optimal growth conditions.
Adoption of Internet and Mobile technologies and enabling collaboration have definitely enabled newer opportunities and bringing in talented workforce and gaining government support are major milestones to cross for this sector.
And In 2017, there were various initiatives launched by Govt. Of India and some of them are —
India Israel Innovation Bridge
Earlier in July this year, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Israel, among other agreements, the two countries also two countries also launched a bilateral innovation challenge for startups in Israel and India.
The India Israel Innovation Bridge is a tech platform to facilitate bilateral cooperation between Indian and Israeli startups, tech hubs, corporations and other key innovation ecosystem players.
Agriculture Grand Challenge
A unique opportunity for Agri-tech startups with a commercially viable solution to solve for innovative challenges in the sector. Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India is looking for new concepts & innovations in 12 different areas. The objective is to support the technology base by funding the best fundamental concepts while helping talented and creative innovations to pursue promising avenues at the frontier of the technology. It will provide startups with access to priority infrastructure, and make Agriculture an attractive sector for the country’s best brains.
Themes for the challenge:
- Simplified Soil Testing Methods
- Assaying and Grading Solution
- Development of E-marketplace
- Price Forecasting During Sowing
- Last Mile Information Dissemination
- Yield Estimation
- Sorting and Grading of Produce
- Adulteration Testing
- Custom Hiring Centers
- Crop Residue Disposal
- Prevent pre-harvest and post-harvest losses
- Enhancing Agricultural Productivity
About Fasal: Fasal is an AI powered IoT platform for Agriculture ecosystem that records a variety of growing conditions on the farm. It then uses artificial intelligence and data science to make on-farm predictions, before delivering the insights that matter into your hand. With its subscription-based model, Fasal aims to cut down the costs for farmers and provide them real-time alerts about crop’s conditions. Moreover, predictive models and optimization of daily tasks, it gives the farmers a complete control over their future harvest.