Tech can change the game even when farmers are suffering!
What are the main issues facing Indian farmers and how might technology help?
By 2025, there will be more than 8.1 billion people on the planet and for each of them to live a healthy life, they would require at least two meals each day.
Therefore, the global need for food will increase exponentially in the years to come. But is its output increasing at the same time?
The globe would need to produce 70% more food in 2050, according to the UN, to fulfil the rising demand. India isn't an exception to this, either. But are we expanding sufficiently? The stats, however, don't support that. India's output per hectare is incredibly low at only 2.3 tons, which is almost 42% lower than the region's average yield per hectare of 4 tons, despite the fact that approximately half of the country's whole population works in agriculture either directly or indirectly.
So, given that farming has been practised for generations, why do our farmers still find it difficult to keep up with the level of world food production?
There isn't just one cause for this, but rather a number of things that prevent our farmers from getting the most out of their crops in terms of productivity. Let's examine the main issues that our farmers encounter and how technology can manage the guiding.
1. Water scarcity and modern irrigation methods.
A very important aspect of farming is irrigation, which requires a lot of water, especially if done using traditional methods. However, only about 60% of India's total cropped land is directly dependent on rainfall, with the remaining 40% depending on it in an indirect manner. The nation's rainfall is exceedingly uneven, though, and farmers in many areas have severe water shortages.
However, technological advancements can lower the amount of water needed without harming the crop's yield or quality. Two widely utilized strategies for lowering irrigation's water consumption and labor costs are water sprinklers and drip irrigation.
In some areas, farmers are also switching to a more sophisticated technique called fertigation, in which fertilizers are delivered directly to plant roots using a system very similar to drip irrigation. This method saves a lot of water, lowers labor costs, and delays the quick spread of herbicides on farms because fertilizers are not applied equally across the entire field.
2.Climate change and dynamic weather
India has 46 of the total 60 soil types and 15 of the major climates. However, the majority of farmers were left with no choice except to respond based on weather predictions made by the government or on trends from past seasons. But because climate change is occurring more frequently than ever, the weather cycles are also being impacted.
Additionally, the climate varies across India, making it impossible for a general weather forecast to be accurate everywhere. However, the development of technology can help farmers with this issue by giving them access to local weather forecasts in real-time. Farmers can utilize this information to inform their decisions and actions, preventing crop damage from unusual weather changes or unanticipated rain.
3. Availability of high-quality insecticides and fertilizers.
Farmers frequently lack adequate understanding about the wide range of fertilizers and insecticides on the market. The majority of farmers have trouble deciding which pesticide or fertilizer would be best for their operation. Furthermore, farmers find it challenging to discover nearby suppliers of fertilizers and pesticides even after learning about their options.
4. A decline in soil fertility and output.
Without sufficient fertility in the soil, no crop will develop correctly. Given that Indian soils have been continuously reduced for thousands of years, soil fertility is a significant problem in India. It has an impact on the productivity of practically all of the country's crops. In addition, the incorrect use of fertilizers is further reducing the soil fertility in India.
NPK mapping of the field on the basis of soil type, seed type, seed rate, irrigation, plant growth regulators, etc. can also be used to tackle this issue. Farmers can select a particular set of fertilizers to improve the fertility of their field based on the mapping's findings.
Again, technology can be quite influential in this situation because current on-field equipment and satellite images can evaluate the soil's nutrient value and the state of the crop at any given time. Additionally, if farmers could take pictures of their crops (and any diseases in them) with their smartphones and share them with agronomists, they could receive better advice and solutions for their crop-related problems. This would allow the agronomists to better understand the issues and offer appropriate solutions.
Technology and data are useful for more than just agriculture; they can also bring about radical changes in the way animals are raised. For instance, information from RFID tags can be used to track both the movements and health of cattle. This information can help farmers increase milk production by helping animals consume their grain more efficiently.
5. Data and technological intervention can stop the loss of food and grains after harvest.
Unfortunately, our food supply networks see a lot of food waste. It's difficult to comprehend that this sum exceeds billions of dollars each year. Poor handling and careless transportation of food products are the main causes of this
For instance, Himachal and Kashmir's apple exports suffer from excessive pressure because of overloading and poor box designs. Similar to this, sophisticated temperature-controlled trucks are required to transport Alphonso mangoes from Konkan to Mumbai in the summer because of their extreme heat sensitivity.
These issues can be resolved relatively quickly by the modern agricultural technology. There are many tools, such as remote sensors, that can keep an eye on many things that lead to waste during storage and transit, like bugs, rodents, wetness, excessive temperatures, humidity, etc. Farmers and managers of cold storage facilities and farmhouses can quickly address any issues by reviewing this data before any damage is done.
Since rodents alone consume between 2 and 4% of the grain produced in India, this technology might be worthwhile to invest in. Until you realise that this 2% represents roughly 5 to 10 million tones of grains annually, this percentage appears to be modest.
In conclusion, we may state that the recent rapid climatic change and declining soil fertility in India have brought forth new issues for farmers. The old farming methods won't be enough to provide the appropriate amount of food any more. The application of contemporary technology in agriculture is the solution in this case.