Empowering India’s underprivileged community through technology

Agriculture is still the backbone of India’s economy and more than 64 percent of the population still reside in rural India. But the problem in rural India is that 84 percent of farmers have small and insignificant holdings of less than five acres. They form the most disadvantaged segment, as the enormous distribution and fragmentation of land ownership has made access to quality production and financing difficult. As you approached the farm gate a few years ago, you would have realized that small farmers were completely isolated from the changes and formalizations taking place in the ecosystem. Slowly, the lines that once divided rural India were blurring with better connectivity and accessibility. We see the emergence of a new agricultural ecosystem with expanded networks, improved transparency and quality assurance for today’s seamless agricultural trade.

Tackling huge tasks with technology

With the spread of mobile phones in India, the distribution of financial services and the spread of technology has become much easier.

Chattanathan Devarajan

Chattanathan Devarajan

Without the advent of technology, the challenge of bringing improvements to many mainly small and marginal farmers who form the majority in rural areas would have been a Herculean task. Technology has dramatically impacted productivity and efficiency in larger markets. Crop selection and production planning have seen a clearer shift toward advanced mechanization and precision farming. With the ability to track, analyze and understand food systems, crop quality can be improved, productivity increased, food waste reduced and traceability also enabled.

Drone/GPS/satellite based farm monitoring helps farmers manage inputs and productivity; while image, spectral and sensor analysis influence yield quality.

Inadequate storage facilities, increasingly unpredictable climate changes and inappropriate logistics are some of the limitations that prevail in post-harvest management. As a result, the supply chain will suffer and rural income growth will be hampered. Change is key at this stage and can be driven by digital and technical integration, allowing farmers to increase ownership of overall supply chain management.

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Accessibility on the last mile

Today, with the advent of digital marketplaces and last mile accessibility with trade guarantees, even small and marginal farmers can get the right value for their produce.

Today’s farmers can work towards market-oriented food production in a highly digital ecosystem compared to traditional agricultural value chains. However, it is important to understand that around 118 million farmers in India hold 145 million land holdings, more than 85 percent of which are marginal and smallholders. The challenges of fragmentation – of land tenure and the value chain – continue to weigh on these smallholders and marginalized farmers who are on the fringes of digital inclusion and development. This is where the formation of FPOs comes in handy and with technological interventions; FPOs can manage farmer inputs and aggregate output for effective cost reduction and better price enforcement. Through these measures we are indeed seeing social cohesion of the three It’s – employment, economic growth and upstate empowerment.

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Overcome limited opportunities

While technology, as explained above, has some long-term solutions for the agricultural sector to offer, we need to solve an agricultural ecosystem where these limited-opportunity farmers are economically resilient to make a real impact. Especially as available land shrinks and with the complexities of extreme temperatures and weather variability.

While these challenges remain, a number of new challenges are arising from climate change due to the indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticides and other carbon emissions into the environment. In this context, we must now ask ourselves the question: “By partnering technology, professional expertise and the wisdom of our farmers, can we find solutions to mitigate the damage of climate change and create a world where these producers have a greater share of the climate.” Rupee of the consumer?” Here comes sustainable agriculture with technological intervention.

However, good technology interventions could bring in crops that cannot be introduced without access to finance. Small and marginalized farmers have been deprived of credit, according to the Reserve Bank of India report. Therefore, the adoption of fintech at the grassroots makes it possible to tackle the complexities of agricultural finance. The growth of the cashless economy and financial technology is creating new opportunities to collateralize and collateralize loans in a targeted manner and manage risk with competitive pricing that was previously not possible. They were mostly at the mercy of moneylenders who charged exorbitant interest rates. The blockchain-powered mobile money, better user interface and easy access to financial products are bringing much-needed financial inclusion to the country, even though it is still in its early stages. The goal for fintech startups should be to connect the fractured agri-ecosystem, especially marginal and smallholder farmers, to the whole ecosystem, from supply chains to credit to storage and easier access to financial products.

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Integrated digital platform

Agtechs are transforming the ecosystem by providing on-demand storage, warehouse receipt financing, quality assessment, and facilitating digitization, among other things. For example, organizations like Arya.ag are now offering harvest intelligence, warehouse locating, financing and market linking solutions through an integrated digital platform that can be accessed across the entire value chain.

While these technologies are bringing the small and marginal farmers and women into the mainstream economy, these technology initiatives are also providing the key stakeholders in Indian agriculture – the women farmers – with an unprecedented voice and choice, and offering them a pathway to transform their role at work Guide. As seen in microfinance, women are a better cohort for lending and the impact is a real improvement in the quality of life for their families, which eventually impacts the community.

Thus, the advent of technology in agriculture and finance offers a glimpse of a promising future for rural India by bringing the underprivileged into mainstream businesses. Success would enable new technologies in agriculture to build a robust system that effectively integrates the smallest farmers into formal value chains in a scalable and affordable way. As technology becomes more scalable and affordable; We have the power to improve efficiencies and close existing gaps to build sustainable and resilient agri-food systems around the world. Even as India takes gradual steps towards innovation, the true success of Agritech will lie in the overlaying of technology to bring about large-scale, irreversible, positive change.

(The author is co-founder of Arya.ag)



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