GIS for Agriculture in India — Geospatial IT

History of Agriculture in India

Agriculture in India exists since ancient times and has been referenced in Vedic literature called Rigveda. It has been claimed that agriculture in India started 9000 years ago with cultivation of plants, domestication of crops and animals. Indian agriculture has since then evolved with various influences around the world, especially during British occupation of India for 150 years.

Since independence, over the last 67 years, India has made significant progress and modernized the agriculture sector. India ranks second in agricultural output in the world.

Today’s Agriculture in India

Agriculture sector’s share of Indian GDP for FY 2013–14 is approximately 12–13% as compared to 30% in FY 1990–91. This decrease is accompanied by worsening factor of employment based on agriculture which is about 52% of total population of India. On the positive side India has got diverse agriculture which makes it to among the top 3 global producers of many crops, such as wheat, rice, pulses, cotton, peanuts, fruits and vegetables.

Challenges of Agriculture in India

The performance of Indian agriculture depends on many socio-economic factors. The key drivers of Indian agriculture are:

  1. Government policies for funding, crops specific programmes, Education and awareness for Farmers
  2. Farming and Crop Technologies, Cropping pattern for profitability
  3. Environmental factors such as water availability, soil degradation and climate change
  4. Market forces such as public-private ecosystems
  5. Infrastructure such as irrigation, electricity, storage and raw materials such as seeds
  6. Improper land use as there is huge fragmentation of land due to traditional land holding pattern
  7. Suitable agricultural skills development and Availability of labour
  8. Valuation and Benefit Realization for Farmers

How GIS and Information Technology can address these challenges

Information technology, Geographical information systems and a complete ecosystem of services for agriculture sector can make a big difference in improving the performance of the sector.

Let us think on the lines of challenges that are listed in previous section.

Government Policies:

Information technology can enable eGovernance for agriculture, making range of services available to farmers and various stakeholders of the sector. Say for example a web portal at district level for providing eServices to the farmers, a monitoring and tracking application for fund utilizations

Farming and Crop Technologies:

Geographical information and analytics systems can be developed and made available through eGovernance, Public-Private Partnerships and other market forces. Say for example GIS maps can be used to plan for better land use, soil analytics, cropping pattern.

Environmental Factors:

Information technology and GIS can be used to provide eServices such as Data Analytics for soil degradation and education on how to take preventive measures to avoid it. The particular discipline experts such as Soil Science Experts can provide the required content for these eServices. This would need progressive elaboration or step-by-step approach as it requires Soil data over the period of time. Information portals at district level can provide information, education, awareness programs for farmers and other stakeholders of the sector about climate change and its impact on them.

Market Forces:

Information Technology and GIS both can be used to address this challenge by promoting the public-private partnership in agriculture sector though eGovernance. Government can leverage the value of policies through G2B (Government to Business) and B2C (Business to Citizen/Farmers/Stakeholders) Services. Say for example there can be a service on the eGov Portal for business to find right customers for their products & services for farming such as Seeds, Fertilizers; this can be facilitated by GIS in the backend. By using B2C services through the eGov portals businesses can run eCampaigns for the products.


Information Technology can be used to run awareness programmes about infrastructure for the stakeholders of agriculture sector. GIS can be used to provide analytics for planning of irrigation network across the country. Overall eGov portal can be developed as dashboard to track various infrastructures for particular area and help local authorities take right decisions. Farmers can access these services through eGovernance programmes for agriculture sector. Network of storage for produce can be planned, monitored and made available to farmers by leveraging public private partnership.

Land Use:

GIS can be used to address this challenge and this is being currently used but due lack of support of Government policies and appropriate implementation is not effective. Information technologies can be used to run awareness programmes for stakeholders of the agriculture sector. Land use has to be implemented at the grass root levels or by introducing the western model of corporate farming. The expertise from agriculture discipline can be leveraged for proper crop patterns aligned with land use.

Skills and Labour:

eGovernance at grass root level can be used to run agricultural skills development and creating the pool of labour for particular farming needs. eGovernance can be powered by Information Technology and GIS. Public Private Partnership can be used to make the training programmes available to farmers and stakeholders. Provisioning of labour can be regulated by using eGovernance outlets.

Crop Valuation and Benefit Realization:

eGovernance powered by IT and GIS can be used to address this challenge. Appropriate government policies and their implementation with required transparency can be enabled by use of Information Technology. IT application can be developed for supply chain management keeping the beneficiary as farmer. Data analytics can be used to align the crop valuation with quality parameters, national and global demand.

To summarize this white paper, I think holistic/integrated farming strategies could be the possible solution to most of these challenges. To illustrate the concept of Holistic Farming, I have tried to create the Staggered diagram, please take a look:

Happy Reading, for any queries please contact

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