Agriculture on Way to Digital Disruption
Are our farmers ready to adopt digital applications and allied technological innovations in their fields? The answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’! This was the unanimous consensus emerging at the end of the day-long national symposium, recently organised by “SMART AGRIPOST” in New Delhi .
With increasing use of mobile and smartphones in rural areas and penetration of internet, a clear technological revolution has been ushered in transforming lives of millions of people, especially farmers, in rural India. According to a report, India’s mobile phone subscriber base has reached one billion mark. Smartphone users are over 300 million and Smartphone penetration is expanding in small and medium cities due to availability of more affordable phones.
Agriculture is fast becoming a data-driven enterprise with a wide range of variables like soil data, moisture, nutrient, rainfall variability, timing of planting and harvesting and market price volatility. And the key component to support the implementation of digitalization of agriculture is Spatial Data Infrastructure and low-cost smart phones to support the bi-directional flow of data and information to farmers as well as experts and policy makers.
Advanced agriculture markets help farmers manage production and market risks through application of spatial data bases that are cloud enabled and integrated through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). This creates a rich and dynamic data ecosystem that enables farmers to take timely decisions to minimize risk and maximize profit- the two critical factors farmers face!
It was highly encouraging to see avid participation of young techno-entrepreneurs who have ventured into agriculture space to support farmers to make farming profitable. New technologies have really disrupted the traditional farming practices, albeit partially across India.
The bigger question is whether the proliferation of technologies and digital applications will help address the chronic farmers’ distress in India. There is no easy answer to this yet.
Though we believe, technology will address many of the agriculture issues, yet the adoption of new technology in our country needs to be hastened now with a multi dimensional push from all quarters – the Government, Industries, Banks, Technocrats, Agri Experts, Farmers’ Bodies and Mass Media.
We are still a little skeptical when we see the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in governance and development for the past two decades. As per the United Nations e-Government Survey about two years ago, India ranks 118 on the e-Government development index out of 193 countries. Researchers found the technology disruptors must bring a greater understanding of local contextual realities into project designs in India.
We hope the new age techno-entrepreneurs in agriculture space have to understand the local realities, integrate digital technologies and provide succor to farmers.