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How technology can benefit Indian farmers
The farmers are the lifeline of our country, and it is time that we arm them with all the latest technology tools they need. It will not only uplift them but also make India the world leader it aims to be.
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India has traditionally been an agrarian economy. While digital transformation is sweeping industries such as IT/ITeS, banking, FMCG, etc. technology is still not easily available to our farmers. The agriculture industry immensely contributes to our country’s GDP. Not only is it responsible for 15% of the GDP, but it is also our biggest employer. Almost 70 percent of the rural population is involved in agriculture in one form or the other. However, we have only scratched the surface. There is a vast potential for the industry. In fact, agriculture can play a critical role in helping the government reach its goal of making India a US$5 trillion economy. And for this, technology in agriculture is indispensable.
Challenges Before Farmers
The agriculture community is riddled with several challenges. The biggest difficulty is that the farmers do not get the price they deserve for their produce. This is mainly because of multiple intermediaries. Lower returns force them to take loans that they cannot service, pushing them further into poverty. They do not have access to effective and superior quality pesticides to save their crops from insects, diseases, weed and mites. Additionally, Indian farmers lack the means to improve crop yield or data to understand soil health. Indian farmers also do not have the knowledge or technology to employ modern irrigation methods as seen in countries such as China, US, etc. They are unable to predict weather conditions, avoid crop wastage due to natural factors and minimize their losses.
Technology to the Rescue
Technology can provide a solution to most challenges farmers face. It can help them predict weather more accurately, decrease waste, boost output and increase their profit margins.
Let’s take a look at how:
Optimum irrigation: With new-age technology, farmers can build optimum irrigation systems that help them mitigate the effects of drought, ensuring crops get all the water they need despite natural calamities. This will ensure that crops never die or their efforts go to waste.
Modern-crop protection measures: Indian farmers do not have access to newer, environmentally safe pesticides. While countries such as Pakistan and Vietnam have more than 500 pesticides registered, and the USA and China have more than 750 pesticides, our farmers only have 290. Advancement of technology has the power to provide them with newer pesticides that are needed only in small quantity, are far more effective, reduce the burden of chemicals in agriculture, and are much safer for humans, animals and the environment.
Accurate predictions: Big data can give farmers the knowledge they need to produce high quality, desirable crops. They can use data to determine the best seeds and other agri-products to use to get optimum results. Artificial Intelligence can help them predict weather conditions and strategize accordingly. They can also leverage cutting-edge e-platforms to cut down intermediaries and directly reach traders and demand the right price for their goods.
Research and training: Technology such as deep learning can play a pivotal role in providing valuable information to farmers on various topics such as soil health, genetic engineering of seeds, best practices for sowing and picking crops, monitoring the health of the animals, understanding regulations and policies, getting the right financial aid and suitable government schemes to leverage. The Government can promote research by coming up with a special provision for data protection for safer and new molecules/formulations that are introduced/developed in the country for the first time. Protection of regulatory data will go a long way in cementing India’s position as an investor’s hub and in encouraging innovators to discover, protect, register and produce new solutions.
High-tech storage: Technology can help farmers build high-tech storage facilities that minimize post-harvest losses and improper handling. Many farmers store their produce in the open that are prone to natural disasters, pests, etc. With modern technology, farmers can protect their crops and substantially improve their shelf life.
The possibilities are endless. There is a lot of scope for growth by bringing the agriculture industry into the digital era. The farmers are the lifeline of our country, and it is time that we arm them with all the latest technology tools they need. It will not only uplift them but also make India the world leader it aims to be.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.