Agtech Solutions: Adopting technology is key to sustainable agriculture

In the last 50 years, the agricultural sector has undergone a remarkable technological transformation. The Green Revolution, characterized by intensive contemporary farming methods, high-yield variety seeds (HYV) and fertilizers, remains the most notable phase in Indian agriculture.

In fact, governments around the world have long pushed for technological interventions to help farms produce more food, conserve more water, and meet their sustainable agriculture goals.

Indian farmers rely largely on cash farming and have frequently adopted chemical fertilizers and pesticides in practice since the green revolution. The 1990s saw innovations in agricultural processing and biotechnology. Farmers have also increasingly started replacing their traditional harvesting methods with tractors to save costs and time.

Although agriculture has been the backbone of India’s economy, there hasn’t been much technological innovation until recently. Consequently, over-use of chemicals over the years has resulted in poor soil health and reduced agricultural production.

It wasn’t until the late 2000s that Indian farmers saw a new method called “protective farming” that not only ensured soil and water retention but also helped farmers achieve high yields.

Today, agtech companies are increasingly focused on offering technological interventions to help farmers increase productivity. Agtech solutions combined with sustainable farming practices will further help farmers maintain soil health without compromising on their performance.

Agri achieve sustainability through technology

The availability of technology to farmers in India is primarily motivated by the need to increase production, profits and productivity. However, significant limitations include a lack of funding, technological know-how and market concerns. To be competitive on a global scale, farmers need easy access to cutting-edge technologies.

The scale, speed, and productivity of agricultural equipment have increased as technology has advanced, allowing for the efficient cultivation of large areas. Farmers are incorporating innovation to reduce planting and harvesting times while increasing agricultural yields.

Artificial intelligence, analytics, connected sensors and other types of technology can help farmers keep their crops resilient and encourage sustainable practices. In addition, the use of technologies such as drones, data science and IoT help farmers to further increase their yield.

At the same time, they can also rely on other sustainable cultivation methods. For example, protective agricultural products such as mulch film, crop cover, crop support netting, agricultural wire, shade netting, insect nets and agricultural twine ensure high-quality products without compromising soil health.

Rise of agtech startups

The rise of Agtech has transformed the farming sector by improving efficiency, knowledge and connections, and making a variety of critical and supportive activities available at the click of a button. Likewise, advances in technology have led to tremendous growth in the Indian agricultural sector.

India’s agricultural sector is set to grow to $24 billion by 2025, according to Inc42. Similarly, the global market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.1 percent to reach US$12,541.15 billion in 2022 from US$11,287.56 billion in 2021.

The agricultural sector has seen multiple technological breakthroughs, from the advent of tractors in the 1960s to current AI-driven farming methods. Drones are also used in a variety of applications. In short, intelligent and modern cultivation methods pave the way for a better future.

Notably, there are about 1,300 agtech startups in India offering a variety of solutions ranging from computerized soil maps to tech-enabled indoor farms. While many companies focus on AI-driven solutions, others believe in precision farming and protective farming solutions.

However, all of these approaches and practices attempt to practice sustainable agriculture without jeopardizing the already compromised soil health.

Many agtech companies have launched their own mobile apps that provide reliable information about meteorological conditions, rain and possible droughts. This enables farmers to make well-informed seeding decisions and thereby minimize financial losses.

These apps also offer a variety of other useful features such as: B. Information about different crops, cultivation methods, global agricultural news and much more.

Increasing Awareness

Markets and customers are increasingly concerned about food safety, hygienic food preparation and the use of sustainable farming practices in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, food traceability is becoming increasingly popular.

Customers can learn more about the history of the crop from pre-harvest to the market shelf by learning more about when, where and who produced it. Technologies open doors and convince farmers of the benefits of sustainable practices.

Agtechs are pioneers in training farmers in various farming practices such as precision farming, conservation farming, equipment knowledge and so on. But it’s important that the public and private sectors work together to publicize technological advances that can help farmers meet their long-term goals.

government initiatives

The Government of India has created a digital farming mission for the years 2021-2025 for projects based on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, remote sensing and GIS technology, blockchain, drones and robotics, among others.

In addition, the government has developed a variety of programs and projects to encourage the adoption of technologies in the agricultural sector to achieve sustainable farming practices.

For example, the government has developed the National Agriculture Market (eNAM), a pan-Indian electronic trading platform that connects the current APMC Mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.

The government established the National Sustainable Agriculture Mission (NMSA) to focus on integrated agriculture, water conservation, soil health management and resource synergies to increase agricultural production, particularly in rainy areas.

Other programs for farmers include e-sagu, Community Radio, Digital Green, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Gramin Bhandaran Yojana.

The way forward

Without sustainable strategies to increase agricultural production efficiency, the gap between supply and demand would continue to widen. The major ecological challenges should not be overlooked either. Agtech startups are in an excellent position to arm them with the best technological solutions and farming practices.

It is the responsibility of both the private and government sectors to ensure that farmers are not left behind in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Strong digital infrastructure is crucial to improve the lives of farmers in India.

For example, technology has made India the largest exporter of bananas after lagging behind in the international market thanks to technological intervention just a decade ago. Therefore, ensuring the growth of farmers along with the development of innovations is the need of the hour.

(The Author is Founder, GrowiT India Pvt Ltd)


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