A Centrally sponsored scheme namely National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGPA) was initially launched in 2010-11 in 7 pilot states, which aims to achieve rapid development in India through use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for timely access to agriculture related information to the farmers. In 2014-15, the scheme was further extended for all the remaining states and two union territories. The scheme has been extended up to March 31, 2021.
Under Phase-II of the scheme, funds were released to states for carrying out the activities such as site preparation of offices for installation of hardware and establishment of computer training labs, procurement, installation and accounting of hardware and system software. The back-up power arrangements, wherever required, setting-up of State Project Management Unit (SPMUs) and hiring of manpower on contract basis, connectivity for the locations for installation of hardware and data digitisation customisation of applications as per state’s and UT’s specific requirements.
Digitising Agricultural Practices
Realising the significance of new digital and emerging technologies, the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income (DFI) has recommended further expanding and augmenting of the digital agriculture initiatives of Government of India. The report focused on modern management of agriculture such as Remote Sensing, Geographical Information System (GIS), Data Analytics, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics, Drones, Sensors and Blockchain.
In order to infuse modern information technologies in the farm sector, the NeGPA guidelines were amended in 2020-21 and funds were released for sanctioning projects for customisation, shifting of web and mobile applications already developed by the states, to the platform to be developed using digital and emerging technologies. Several states have come forward to utilise this amended policy and accordingly pilot projects have been sanctioned in various states to make use of emerging technologies.
Besides, the new initiatives of creating farmers’ database, Unified Farmers Service Platform (UFSP) would bring a paradigm shift in accessing the data relating to farmers and can be used to develop customised solutions, make better plans and monitor their implementation.
Unified Farmer Service Platform
Unified Farmer Service Platform (UFSP) is a combination of core infrastructure, data, applications and tools that enable seamless interoperability of various public and private IT systems in the agriculture ecosystem across the country. UFSP is envisaged to play the following role:
- Act as a central agency in the agri ecosystem
- Enables Registration of the service providers, public and private
- Enables registration of the farmer services government of farmer (G2F), government to business (G2B), business to farmer (B2F) and business to business (B2B)
- Enforces various rules and validations required during the service delivery process
- Acts as a repository of all the applicable standards, API’s and formats
- It shall also act as a medium of data exchange amongst various schemes and services to enable comprehensive delivery of services to the farmer.
For better planning, monitoring, policy making, strategy formulation and smooth implementation of schemes for the farmers a nationwide farmers database linked with land records is being created with the following objective:
- Develop nationwide database of farmers
- Keep a record of unique farmers.
- Unique farmer ID (FID) to uniquely identify a farmer
- To know benefits availed by a farmer under various schemes
This Centralised Farmers Database shall be useful for various activities like issuing soil health cards, dissemination of crop advisories to the farmers, precision farming, smart cards for farmers to facilitate e-governance, crop insurance, settlement of compensation claims, grant of agricultural subsidies, community and village resource centres among other related information. The data of 4.3 crore farmers linked with land records have already been verified and the database would be unveiled shortly.
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