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Digitising Agriculture: Leveraging technology to empower farmers

Digitising Agriculture: Leveraging technology to empower farmers
27 Apr, 2022
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By 2030, our annual consumption is expected to make India the 5th largest consumer and by 2050, agriculture will be faced with the giant responsibility of feeding 9 billion people. The world has lost almost 30% of its arable land to pollution or erosion over the last 40 years and the impacts of climate change are continue to affect our productivity. Needless to say, tech interventions are becoming instrumental in maximising yields to meet the changing demands of food preferences while reimagining the agricultural ecosystem for constrained natural resources.  

Today we are seeing a transformation in Indian agriculture. Crop choices and production planning are experiencing a stronger shift to advanced mechanization and precision farming. Technology is helping the primary producer take some important decisions through drone/gis/satellite-based farm surveillance and analytics: what should be sown, when, how to maximize farm yield, monitor crop progress with prescriptive inputs for harvest. Integrated image, spectral and sensor analytics for on-field quality assaying and tech enabled margin calls and repayment processes are already a part of current agricultural solutions. 

Digitisation of spaces, commodities, financing and processes across the value chain has enabled transparency, efficiency and productivity in an otherwise fragmented market. Digitization of warehouses helps food grain suppliers decide where to store while optimizing parameters like distance from mandi, nearest processor, types of service like fumigation and financing availability etc all at the click of single button. Digitisation of commodity to build e-receipts, , IoT based quality assessments, and the implementation of agri-blockchain is building capabilities for seamless institutional credit and enabling financial inclusion of smallholder farmers. The adoption of FinTech at the grassroots has enabled us to tackle agri-finance complexities and the risks aligned with it for decades. 

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The digitization of commerce enables assurances in quality, payment and delivery while solving for cheaper and faster supply chain financing which is essential for the success of any MSME. Emerging technologies can be a game-changer in building a strong logistics foundation which enhance traceability and ensure proper mapping of supply with demand. Technology also plays a very important role in reducing the trust deficit in commerce by enabling escrow services for payment safety, transparent quality data and freight tracking thus increasing the confidence to trade anywhere while benefitting from optionality to maximize income. Farmers can now choose when to sell, whom to sell to and at what price through Agri commerce apps and personalised dashboards.  

Implementing technology-led solutions especially in the post-harvest stages of agriculture have proven to be sustainable and instrumental in reducing food loss. However, it is crucial to look at ease of use and access alongside the viability of the tech in the here and now of the Indian smallholder farmers. Agencies like farmer producer organization (FPOs) play a very essential role in assisting farmers adapt best practices and adopt technologies. However, they too struggle with the management of thousands of farmers in their catchment area, providing personalised feedback, inputs and advice. Here too, technology is an enabler for the effective and efficient delivery of services ensuring prompt member engagement, financial management and transparency for data between all stakeholders. 

Digital tools can be used to reduce social asymmetries – it could solve for various gaps in the ecosystem related to accessibility of money, material and information. The delicate balance involving machine and human interface, with a clear and focussed understanding of digital interventions will become essential for the evolution of strategies and to create a roadmap for rural adoption and inclusion of tech practices.  

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Technology is revolutionising agriculture and its role in creating equitable, sustainable and transparent value chains will enable sustainable and resilient agri-food systems globally.

Navneet Rai

Navneet Rai


Navneet Rai is the Chief Digital Officer at Arya.ag.