Agriculture in the Age of Technology
In the previous two decades, technological uses in India's agricultural sector have increased steadily. Farm mechanization is leading the way in this shift, allowing farmers to earn more money. Other fields of agriculture were also benefiting from technological advancements.
Micro irrigation, biotechnology, soil health cards, mobile money and the use of mobile phones in agricultural techniques have all made inroads in India. In addition, remote sensing, drones, GPS, weather mapping, and digitised mapping, among other technologies, are now widely used in the industry.
Farmers in India face a slew of issues, including unreliable monsoons, high agricultural input costs, limited access to credit, low output prices, poor market access and a slew of other issues. Technologies are a fantastic enabler in such difficult circumstances. Not only has the industry accepted agricultural mechanisation, but it has also broadened its horizons to include advanced technology capable of bringing about change.
Following the implementation of a number of basic technologies in the agricultural industry, the focus has now shifted to more advanced technology. Policymakers, the business sector, universities, and academics must work together to determine the best way to make advanced technologies available to small and marginal farmers. Mechanisation, like industrialisation, necessitates a certain amount of scale among farmers. Increased farmer understanding of the benefits of mechanisation, as well as different government initiatives promoting it, has resulted in a continuous increase in farm mechanisation in India.
The machines cannot be brought to each farmer's field by himself. As a result, the corporate sector may play a critical role in this area by establishing customised employment centres. India has achieved 40% farm mechanisation so far, with roughly 55% of the population involved in agriculture. With a greater focus on mechanising small and marginal farmers and easier access to agricultural loans with increased affordability, the remaining 60% landholding presents a potential opportunity that can be tapped.
We must comprehend India's agricultural ecosystem. We can't sell tractors to tiny and marginalised farmers since their landholdings are so low. As a result, farmers with fragmented landholdings can benefit from low-cost power tillers.
Drone - Taking to the Sky:
Agricultural drones with adequate sensors, according to technical experts, can be an effective instrument for crop management, boosting yield, regulating irrigation water, and wisely administering pesticides and herbicides. NETRA, a Defence Research and Development Organisation developed unmanned aerial vehicle, was deployed to track flood damage and stranded persons in Uttarakhand's severe floods. It is also causing significant changes in agriculture.
Experts stress the use of space technology and data collected from drones for remote sensing. It is necessary to provide a method for evaluating the data collected by agricultural drones.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) sells remote sensing data to the agriculture industry through its National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).
Technologies of the Future:
Advanced technologies are extremely important and have the capacity to address productivity issues as well as the sector's overall growth. An ecosystem of integrated services provided by the public and private sectors, civil society and farmer organisations is required.
It is now necessary to transform agriculture in a scientific manner in order to meet the difficulties and feed the growing population. With 80 percent of Indian farmers owning less than two hectares of land, technological solutions must be accessible to all.
The availability of advanced technology, the potential for scaling up and replicating their adoption at the farm level, commercialisation of agriculture, incubation and financing of such technologies will create a platform to emphasise the importance of moving away from mechanisation and toward technology adoption, as well as its contribution to overall growth and productivity improvement.
Partnerships between the public and private sectors:
The consistent R&D and innovations conducted by both the public and private sectors are poised to propel technology application in Indian agriculture to new heights. Precision farming, satellite soil mapping and water conditions, hydroponics and novel machineries that are energy efficient and adaptable to local conditions have all shown to be effective in the Indian agricultural sector. To enable higher technological adoption, the focus is turning toward bettering synergy among various stakeholders.
Both the public and private sectors have made considerable investments in research and development, as well as the development of new technology, in order to address the issue of sustainable agriculture.
Given the structural shift in agriculture and the growing demand for technological advancements, it is vital to ensure that technologies are available to farmers and agribusiness companies, are feasible on the ground, and are scalable. Strengthening the public-private connection in this sector, while utilising the respective competitive advantage, makes a lot of sense. Commercialization issues must of course, be addressed.
Agriculture must be the most important pillar of the Indian economy because it employs more than half of the population. Agriculture, like the rest of the economy, would have to alter as a result of technological advancements.