DIGITAL AGRICULTURE

  • Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare signed 5 Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with private companies for taking forward Digital Agriculture.
  • These pilot projects are part of the Digital Agriculture Mission and will draw on the National Farmers Database which already includes 5.5 crore farmers identified using existing national schemes.

Important points:

  • Digital Agriculture is “ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and data ecosystems to support the development and delivery of timely, targeted information and services to make farming profitable and sustainable while delivering safe nutritious and affordable food for all.”
  • Precision agriculture (PA) is an approach where inputs are utilised in precise amounts to get increased average yields, compared to traditional cultivation techniques such as agroforestry, intercropping, crop rotation, etc. It is based on using ICTs.
  • Digital and wireless technologies for data measurement, Weather monitoring, Robotics/drone technology, etc.

Benefits:

  1. Increases agriculture productivity.
  2. Prevents soil degradation.
  3. Reduces chemical application in crop production.
  4. Efficient use of water resources.
  5. Disseminates modern farm practices to improve the quality, quantity and reduced cost of production.
  6. Changes the socio-economic status of farmers.

Challenges:

  • High Capital Costs: It discourages the farmers to adopt digital methods of farming.
  • Small Land Holdings: Indian farms are very small in size and 1-2 acres farm plots are the most common. Also, agricultural land leasing under various arrangements is widely prevalent in India.
  • Renting and Sharing Practices: Due to both limited financial resources and small farm plots, renting and sharing platforms rather than outright purchase for equipment and machinery like tractors, harvesters etc.
  • Illiteracy in Rural Area: The lack of basic computer literacy hinders the fast development of e-Agriculture.

Way Forward

  • The use of technology has defined the 21st century. As the world moves toward quantum computing, AI, big data, and other new technologies, India has a tremendous opportunity to reap the advantage of being an IT giant and revolutionize the farming sector. While the green revolution led to an increase in agricultural production, the IT revolution in Indian farming must be the next big step.
  • There is a need to build a robust digital infrastructure in the country consisting of satellite imaging, soil health information, land record, cropping pattern and frequency, market data, and others.

SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES.MINT

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