AgriTech: The conjuncture in need!
Author | Kumarjit Mazumder, Sales Head – India
“Agriculture is a fundamental source of national prosperity”
The Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Budget 2022, laid great stress on digitizing and technology orientation for the agriculture sector, but why??
According to a survey, in 2020, the total share of agriculture in world GDP went up to 10-11% for 146 countries! The contribution of the agriculture sector has been only growing! Let’s talk about India! Did you know that approximately 70% of the rural population depends on agricultural activity to run their household and contributes a margin of 17-18% to the GDP?
Yes, that is correct! Indeed, agriculture has a significant impact on humanity, and so it’s only fair to evolve in the sector that contributes at such a large magnitude, right!
Times have been ever-evolving and ever-changing, from building the first tool to inventing the magnetic compass. The biggest benefactor would undoubtedly be technology. Technology has seeped everywhere, even to the remotest of the fields, and hence farming too! Technology has a massive impact on the agriculture sector. We all are well acquainted with the terms technology & agriculture separately, but what’s interesting is how exactly the amalgamation of these two comes out as the giant name AgriTech!
Agriculture requires high monitoring, precision, and practical thinking to bring out the expected results. Knowledge about the specific attributes of the soil like its moisture content, nutritional values, historical knowledge is essential for a farmer. From sowing a seed to selling the yield in the market, each step of farming calls for precision and hard labor. Because the farmer tends to rely on using traditional methods from their ancestors to practice farming, they are mostly unaware of the new techniques and tools, which often lead to low crop yield and high economic losses! Integrating technological aid into agriculture can significantly reduce dependency on outdated practices.
It would be safe to say that technology is rapidly stretching its wings to support the farmers, from getting them extensive information using Artificial intelligence & machine learning-enabled satellite imagery of the farm to know about the weather forecast. This information can help them be up to date on the pre-requisite knowledge and be helpful in soil and pest management. The farmer can know the real-time process with the information provided, accurately predict calamities & pest infestation, advisories on crop-related issues, etc.
Let us see how these technologies aid the people of the agriculture sector:
- Evolution of equipment:
Farming equipment has always been the prime reason of concern for the farmers. Manpower and labor costs are reaching the roof, and farmers earn peanuts for their yields. To cover the cost of buying and managing the equipment, these poor farmers end up taking a considerable amount of loan that they take a lifetime to repay. But with new and present-day technology that might range from robotics to computer vision systems, these hurdles have been minimized to a great extent. AI-assisted spraying, automation of tractors, seeding the correct way via automated technologies have reduced the risk of errors, labor shortages, and expected yield estimation.
- Drone vigilance:
|Budget 2022 has been a changing wheel for the Agri-sector with the government promoting funds for blended finance for Agri-tech! FM also emphasized on providing the farmers with hi-tech services to the farmers!|
AI is still a fascinating subject for many, and no doubt that the efficiency & accountability of AI-made systems like drones are top-notch. Agricultural drones are the talk of the town today; they have created a mark on many. The farmers need to monitor and keep an eye on their crops spread in hundreds of acres of land, resulting in a high possibility of human errors. Keeping an eye on crop health, signs of infestation, and ensuring quality development are a kind of work that requires energy and being attentive, and thus, agricultural drones are getting so much recognition. The drone technology includes advanced technology like the navigation system, HD capturing resolution, multiple sensors, and GPS to conduct a survey of the crops and enable a farmer to be careful while making an informed decision regarding farm management. The Finance minister in the budget 2022 has announced the promotion of Kisan Drones that would give a view of almost entire farm thereby making it possible to petrol the crops easily and efficiently. Software and system-driven drones can be used to analyze, investigate, track and map the crops based on required parameters from remote areas. With wide coverage areas and easy-to-use methods, these drones save an ample amount of man labor, time, and resources, enhancing overall efficiency and yield.
- Satellite image:
Pictures and videos are the sources that give a visual representation of anything. Thus to know crop health, risk factors, season changes, harvest, and yield predictions, it is important to have a visual presentation of the area of the plantation. Imagine a farmer with 450 acres of land willing to decide based on the crops growth stage, do you think the farmer would be well aware of his entire land with just vigilance on a few sections? Now let’s imagine a field agent rounding on 50-80 crop fields per day, do you think he could be as efficient as he ought to be in reporting the data acquired?? And this is where using satellite imagery along with AI-ML technology comes in handy. A field agent can provide data using satellite imagery to help the farmer predict how much yield can be expected, whether the land area is appropriate for a specific crop, whether the crop is healthy or not, and many such detailed information. Satellite imagery can also help fertilizer companies to gain information on areas where the infestation of pests is more so that they can supply their solutions to the population in need. These cut down on the need for manual presence and consolidate agriculture and technology in a unique bond.
Do you think just cultivation and harvesting is enough and the last stop in farming? Some may also argue that it is the start of the whole process of cropping. It begins with sowing and ends with getting the best price for one’s yield in the markets! The entire crop production and management process should be tracked to provide the appropriate intervention as and when required. While the previous knowledge often suffices, technology can still give insights from basic to highly advanced information to a farmer to help him track his crop effectively.
Technology has always been on top of its game in terms of tracking. Whether tracking a criminal or a device, technology plays a key role. There is a need to keep a tab on different aspects of agriculture. From identifying the location where the demand is high for a specific crop to monitoring and predicting the weather for rainfall estimate, duration, and catastrophes, technology helps in various domains through its tracking advancements!
It is safe to assume that technology has already started making historical changes in agriculture for farmers, agro-input firms, insurance companies, or other agricultural firms. The present-day example would be Budget 2022, an eye-opener for many who think historical methods are still the way things should work! We can safely say that technology has brought a massive revolt of advancement and has enabled many mobile applications, web portals, and other platforms to make lives easier. Along with the farmers, the agri-input companies, fertilizer companies, and insurance firms will benefit from the technological advances. With the rapid growth of population and need for food, it is imperative to increase the workforce and labor efforts efficiently and wisely. And thus use of technology to produce and generate crop-based products can ensure efficiency, reduction in labor, reduction in cost, and increase in harvest in the longer run.