Agricultural technology (Agtech) that provides timely, accurate, site-specific crop information i.e. precision agriculture has the potential to increase yields and smooth market fluctuations. It will revolutionise the lives of people who work in agriculture and for those depending on the ecosystems. With a market of farmers willing to adopt new technologies and a country with a wide range of geo-climatic conditions, India is an ideal place to develop precision agriculture solutions.
Precision agriculture is an approach to farm management that uses information technology to ensure that soil and crops receive exactly what they need for productivity and optimum health. The goal of precision agriculture is to ensure sustainability, profitability and protection of the environment. It is also known as site-specific crop management, as-needed farming and satellite agriculture.
Precision agriculture includes accessing real-time data about the conditions of the soil and ambient air, crops, along with other relevant information such as labour costs and equipment availability, hyper-local topographical and weather predictions.
Traditionally, it was resource heavy and required a large-scale operation to function optimally. With significant strides in technology, such as mobile apps, smart sensors, drones and cloud computing precision agriculture is now accessible for farming cooperatives and even small family farms.
Some of the main use cases of precision agriculture include:
Precision agriculture in India is not just economical with respect to monetary, natural and human resources, but it also contributes to sustainable farming because of its calculated use of resources to produce an optimal yield. Precision agriculture is particularly interesting for India, not only because it will revolutionise food production for a large population and export market, but also improve the working conditions of a the large percentage (above 60%) of Indians who are working in the agricultural sector. India is also a favourable agricultural market for precision agriculture because of high levels of digital penetration (around 40% in rural India). Thus, there are several drivers for the development within precision agriculture solutions in India.
Below five perspectives, give an indication of the maturity of the precision agriculture sector in India.
Policy – As of Jan 2022, the Indian Government is promoting drone use in agriculture by extending financial support under the ‘Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanization’ programme. The Agriculture Ministry is to provide grants worth up to DKK 90,000 to agricultural institutes for the purchase of drones.
Corporate – According to Dr. Mamta, a scientist at ICRISAT, farmers in India are enthusiastic about adopting precision agriculture technologies. This in addition to high levels of digital penetration (around 40% in rural India), should make the adoption of precision agriculture happen smoothly.
Indian Corporates such as Tech Mahindra and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have several solutions in this space. For example, mKRISHI by TCS delivers a range of personalized services such as ag advisory, best practices, alerts, weather forecasts, and supply chain management to farmers on their mobile phones. mKRISHI’s mobile component instantly digitizes available field data and transmits it over GPRS or similar networks to a web dashboard for analysis by experts and operational planners. This platform already crossed 1 million users in 2017.
Entrepreneurship – India has many successful startups within Agtech. One example is Cropin that uses cutting-edge technologies, Big Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Geo-tagging and satellite monitoring to revolutionize the ag-ecosystem. This agriculture startup has raised a total of around DKK 240M in funding to date (2022).
Academia – An agreement has just been signed between the University of Copenhagen and the Indian based International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to exchange innovations and research in this area, specifically on plant and soil health.
Investment - India ranks 3rd in terms of Agtech funding and is likely to witness investments worth around DKK 200-250B by 2025.
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