The information and communication technology has become evident for better agricultural practices. These technologies can be the game changer for the farmers. AJAY ADLAKHA, Editor-in-Chief, Rural & Marketing highlights the possibilities of these technologies in agriculture sector.
To reduce the cost of cultivation and increase farmers’ income while better utilisation of natural resources, various types of IT enabled services are being provided to farmers across India. However, the majority of farmers are still unaware or finding themselves incompatible to use them. If farmers are being made aware and these technologies being used by majority of the farming community, it will not only help reduce the cost of cultivation, but also increase farmers’ income. In short, it can be said, these technologies can be the game changer for agriculture sector in the country.
The Government has launched online agriculture commodity trading platform, e-National Agriculture Market (eNAM). In the first phase, 250 APMC mandis came together on a single trading platform, rest of 335 mandis will be incorporated in the second phase. It removes the role of middlemen in agri commodity trading and provides fair prices, based on market forces, to the farmers. It has taken agriculture commodities to a transparent e-commerce platform.
2. Remote Sensing
The Government has made remote sensing through satellites an integral part of the implementation of newly launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). It enables the insurance companies to monitor crops through satellite remote sensing which helps resolve the insurance related issues if there is any damage in the crops.
Remote sensing also helps in providing remedy to crop loses. A Bangalore based organisation, CropIn Technologies provides such advisories to the farmers in some parts of Karnataka by remote sensing of crops.
3. Mobile farm advisory
Many organisations such as Ekgaon Technologies, RML, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Vodafone and IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited provide farm advisories to farmers through SMS and mobile applications in different pockets of the country. The advisories range from soil management, fertilisers, weather forecast, farm inputs, crop management, soil testing, plant protection, mandi rates to dairy and animal husbandry.
4. Unified Payment Interface
Announced in April in 2016, Unified Payment Interface (UPI) empowers an account holder to transfer money to someone else’s bank account or get money to his bank account. Functioning on Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), UPI can help farmers while buying farm inputs as well as selling farm produce. It would connect them to the formal banking services and ease the role of middlemen while they trade in commodities. By making digital payments during farm commodity trading, it would boost the Government’s focus on “less cash” economy. The 27 public and private sector banks have started providing UPI based services.
5. Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Due to the low literacy rate among the farmers, it is sometimes challenging to provide farm advisories to them through mobile Apps and SMSs. And thus, some organisations are providing Interactive Voice Response (IVR) services through Kisan Call Centres (KCC).
6. Crop Protection App
A German organisation, PEAT has developed a mobile App Plantix. The farmer can take a couple of photographs of his damaged crops through the App, then the App tells about the damage incurred due to pests and recommends the needful remedy and suggests the usage of agrochemicals.
7. Advance sensor for saving irrigation water
With only 4 percent water resources, India feeds 17 percent of global population and 15 percent livestocks. Further, owing to climate change water is going to be a highly crucial issue in the future. Thus, while conserving, better utilisation of water is also important. Sensing the importance, Water and Land Management Training and Research Institute (Walamtari), Hyderabad has developed a sensor which monitors water level and flow, soil moisture, temperature and humidity in the field. Besides, the system sends weather forecast alerts to the farmers’ mobile phones. It also keeps an eye on the depth of water in the canals and quantum of water in the reservoir. The technology saves to the extent of 40 percent water even in the rice field which is the largest consumer of water.
8. Sowing App for smallholder farmers
IT major Microsoft in association with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has developed a sowing App for farmers. The App gives advisories to the farmers on the best time to sow crops depending on weather conditions, soil and other indicators. The application has potential to help reduce crop failures and increase yield, in turn generate better income for farmers.