‘Technology’ as a broad concept has always had a large role to play when it comes to easing out tensions and crinkles in age-old systems. ‘AgTech’ is a more specific category within the ‘technology’ spectrum and provides broad assistance to the industry of agriculture. The agricultural industry is one that supports around 43 percent of India’s employment, hence it is also one of the most important economic sectors along with being our prime source for sustenance.
Farmers have started to get educated, informed, and equipped with the inner workings and benefits of the virtual world with a digital integration in their daily agricultural tasks. There are multiple ways in which AgTech or Agritech proves to be a supporting pillar for farmers, enabling them to be future-ready and exceedingly aware of the benefits technology can provide them with.
1. Integrating Technology with Farm Management
Farm management cannot be considered an easy task. They require knowledge and understanding about the varying nature of different crops as every crop has differed needs. They require inputs and advisory on practices to be followed. AgTech assists farmers in taking forward the best suited agricultural practices, in turn increasing efficiency. With technology comes efficiency, where farmers will be able to manage their crops and produce more effectively, mitigating various risks and working on a centralised database where they are informed and educated about the processes to follow, along with optimising on-farm resources, which are generally a scarcity, for these various crops to ensure the maximum yield. Integrating technology with daily agronomic activities would allow individuals to focus more on the bigger picture, focusing on sustainable agriculture, climate resilience and traceability.
2. Financial Freedom
A technology platform, can help farmers increase their income and hence buying and selling capacity as well, along with providing them with various cost analysis assistance, so that the funds can be allocated in the right manner for every task the farmer carries out, or every purchase that is made. Along with this, farmers are being guided towards forming FPCs/FPOs (farmer producer companies / organisations) which will allow them to carry out the processes of post-processing and production, along with manufacturing and selling of the produce on their own through the FPOs, adding a profitable value.
3. Digital Supply Chain
AgTech works towards the establishing of a digital agricultural supply chain, where dots are connected, making the entire processes exceedingly streamlined. Stakeholders are being brought onto this single technological platform. Through the access of technology, farmers are able to expand their buyer base, reach an exceeding number of consumers and increase their profitability as well. In this case, not only do the production processes become more efficient, but even the selling the produce to an increasing number of profitable sources. Platforms like e-Mandis are also gaining importance as of today and are working towards the creation of a uniform national market for agricultural commodities in turn, increasing the consumer base for farmers and individual farmers who can then deal (theoretically) directly with the entire country.
These are only a few ways in which technology is integrated with agriculture and can help individual and small farmers along with providing assistance to the entire value chain, while also setting benefits to contract farmers, corporates, R&D institutions, funding agencies, trade bodies, FPOs and government bodies as well. According to an article by The Economist, ‘In the short run, these improvements will boost farmers’ profits, by cutting costs and increasing yields, and should also benefit consumers (meaning everyone who eats food) in the form of lower prices. In the longer run, though, they may help provide the answer to an increasingly urgent question: how can the world be fed in future without putting irreparable strain on the Earth’s soils and oceans?’
The way forward for future farming processes and farmers, along with various agri-related sub-verticals seems to be digital and beneficial not only for various agriculture stakeholders, but majorly for small farmers and labourers, converting them into farm owners as well.
(Santosh Shinde is the COO and Co-founder of FarmERP. Views expressed in the article are author’s own.)
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