AgriTech in India: Farming For The Future

The India Mobile Congress 2018 will be held in New Delhi at Aerocity on 25th-27th October 2018. The theme for this year’s India Mobile Congress is ‘New Digital Horizons. Connect. Create. Innovate’. The driving force behind the 2018 IMC is to explore future technologies and their potential for changing lives. One such arena that experts will be discussing at the IMC 2018 is that of AgriTech in India or the use of technology to aid agriculture.

Old And New: The Marriage Of Tech And Agriculture

Turn the hourglass back a few decades and you’d laugh at the idea of merging futuristic technologies with a practice as old as civilization itself. Sure, industrialization and modernization have always impacted the agricultural sector, but the kind and level of integration we’re looking at now was hitherto unimaginable. Developments in the agricultural arena have always been upgrades on existing practices: better machinery, better-yield seeds, and better irrigation systems. Development, so far, has been positive but confined within the existing definitions of possibility. But now, here we are: making the old and mundane new and exciting. The introduction of AgriTech as not only a concept but initiatives by different administrations and institutions spells new possibilities for the farming industry, making it a viable sector for future generations to explore.

What Is AgriTech?

AgriTech is the idea of applying modern technologies to the agricultural sector with a view to enhance produce, efficiency and revenue. The concept extends to any applications, practices, products and services that enhance any aspect of the agricultural process, be it an input function or the output received. AgriTech in India may also be applied to the associated sectors of aquaculture and horticulture.

The push for AgriTech is rooted in the realization that the world needs more than it is currently yielding. United Nations’ projections suggest that by 2050, the global demand will have grown so much that the global produce will need to be increased by 70%.

AgriTech In India

The idea of leveraging AgriTech in India practices is a fairly recent one, but countries such as China, Israel and the United States have set promising precedents. In India, 70% of farmland continues to rely on rainwater for irrigation and statistics prove that monsoon-fed farmlands yield 40% less produce than those with modern irrigation systems. Coupled with other hurdles such as low-quality seeds, declining groundwater levels, labor-intensive practices, supply-chain challenges, economic barriers and fragmented land holdings, farming in India has always been fraught with hardships. Indian entrepreneurs and startups have decided to follow in the footsteps of their international counterparts and apply modern technologies to improve the farming experience in India. Both the need for and the potential of AgriTech in India are defined by the large size and population of the country.

Applications Of Technology In Agriculture

At the IMC 2018, expert panelists will delve into the different technologies that can be used by TechFARMERS.

Some of the applications include:

• Hydroponics technology can be used to grow fruits and vegetables throughout the year and this soilless method of crop production helps protect against the ravaging effects of changing climates.
• Drones can be used for scanning, monitoring, satellite photography and information transmission with respect to the crop fields.
• Drones outfitted with thermal-imaging cameras may be used to oversee livestock.
• Data analytics in agriculture not only helps farmers and on-site workers make more informed decisions, they also inform policy at the national level. Big Data can be used to frame national agricultural practices and farming policies, address the national need for produce and other yield, help improve import-export trades etc.
• Increasing information allows all farmers to practice precision farming: the art of using the right product/technique in the right quantity at exactly the right time. From ensuring the crops receive the perfect amount of water, nutrients and pesticides to monitoring responses to external factors like the weather, precision farming mitigates uncertainties in the farming process.
• Technology is empowering farmers by giving them a bigger say in the industry. The blockchain technique allows for a peer-to-peer model in agriculture where farmers can sell directly to buyers, eliminating the need for suppliers and distributors, thereby increasing profits. Farmers and other agricultural workers can now benefit from the global e-commerce phenomenon for both buying and selling as desired.
• This development also promotes fair trade ideals since reliance on market forces, manipulative factors, hegemonic actors and geopolitical barriers can be overcome by trading on the blockchain.
• Blockchain trading allows farmers to break free of the US Dollar’s control of international markets, enables cross-border trading, improves traceability and accountability and helps settle conflicts since a blockchain of records, licenses and transactions can serve as evidence.
• Mobile apps can be used to connect farmers with buyers, investors, sponsors, officials, collaborators, industrialists, suppliers etc. Farmers can seek out clients, government services and financial assistance through the touch of a few buttons.
• The role of digital communication technology in farming can be seen through the popularity of ICT elements such as podcasts, blogs, vlogs, e-books, web series, social media platforms etc. with farmers. These communication platforms and mediums are connecting what used to once be a niche and somewhat isolated community with entrepreneurs, innovators, clients, customers, sponsors and policymakers from all over the world.
• The Internet of Things can help fine-tune various inputs to help improve yield. IoT-enabled sensor networks can be used to conduct a variety of analytical processes and the tasks informed by them, ranging from automatic irrigation systems and soil management to using intelligent software to monitor factors such as weather, light and heat to predict and prevent diseases, pests and decay.
• Conversations about smart transport tend to focus on smart cars and self-driving vehicles but did you know that the technology holds the power to do much more? For instance, the use of remote equipment and smart machines in agriculture can help reduce manual labor, perform specialized tasks with increased efficiency and complete just about every step of the farming process without the need for human involvement through equipment such as seeding machines and electrostatic sprayers.
• Even robotics and AI make an appearance in the conversation on AgriTech since harvesting robots can actually be used to collect ready yield faster and with lesser error margins for damage and loss during the harvesting process.
• Equipment and software programs can be used to clean, organize and process the harvest yields for sale and storage. Smart storage solutions such as cold storage techniques, optimal temperature monitoring and management and moisture control can be used to protect the crops against damage, reduce waste and enhance the shelf-life of perishables.
• Nanotechnology can be used to boost crop health and fight diseases through the dissemination of supplements, nutrients and medicines in nanocapsules, nanoparticles and capsids.

AgriTech & TechFARMERS At India Mobile Congress 2018

The merger of technology and agriculture will be a key topic of discussion at the India Mobile Congress 2018. A conference on the topics of AgriTech in India and TechFARMERS will be held on 27th October from 15:30-16:30 hours at Hall C of the IMC 2018. The list of conference panelists includes:

AgriTech in India

  1. Mr. Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman, Cargill India
  2. Mr. Sanjay Sacheti, CEO, Olam India
  3. Dr Vishy Karri, CEO, Expert 365
  4. Moderator – KPMG

 

If you’re interested in learning more about AgriTech in India, the applications of future technologies in traditional fields and the scope of digital communication technology, log onto www.indiamobilecongress.com and register for the India Mobile Congress 2018 today. Use FB10 to get a 10% discount on delegate passes.