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A Futuristic Roadmap for Farmers

India is a country wherein roughly 50% of the population is engaged in agriculture but the GDP
share of their contribution remains at 17-18%. Over the last 10 years there has been a
significant rise in the number of small and marginal farmers – 9 million, putting the total figure
at about 126 million. These farmers together control about 74.4 million hectares of agricultural
land which amounts to a paltry 0.6 hectares each.
For all farmers the size of the average land holding has decreased over the last decade. The
total area under farming has also fallen over the years.
These form the main issue for India’s small farmers along with the added problems of erratic
monsoons, droughts and farm productivity.
Technology can play an important role in helping the Indian agriculture sector. Some of the
latest technologies like AI, Blockchain and Data Analytics has the power to bring in
transparency to the entire value chain for the farmer.
Farms of tomorrow will be called Smart Farms aided by Precision Farming. These farms will
integrate present agri-practices with technologies. Let us look at how the farmer’s journey can
be in a technology enabled future
1. Farmers decision for cropping -
A farmer will be in a position to leverage the use of big data analytics in his phone to
manage his entire farming activity. The role which big data analytics can play here is
as follows –
 Monitoring natural trends – a lot of significant trends can be collected from past
data such as droughts, natural disasters and pests. These trends can be
leveraged to better inform a farmer towards contingent planning.
 Accurate Crop Prediction – the productivity of soil based on historical data and
the seed variants use can allow a farmer to know how the yields will vary from
crop to crop.
 Cropping decision – Big Data has the power to suggest a farmer as to what
crops to grow, when to grow and how to grow it.
The present government’s aim of doubling farmers income will require farmers to make
the most of technology. IoT enabled sensors and data analytics can help farmers
diversify their cropping pattern in order to ensure that soil nutrients are not depleted.
Also, it can use real time data to guide farmers towards the supply and demand of
crops within the market in order to ensure that farmers do not waste their resources to
grow crops which are in over supply and hence will not fetch remunerative prices.
2. Irrigation Technologies –
IoT has an immense potential to help farmers collect information and communicate
with farm equipment through sensors. Irrigation is a sensitive issue today as the
country’s 42% cropped area has been facing droughts. Also a large part of Indian
irrigation is subsidized which actually puts a strain on natural resources as regions
having irrigation exploit such incentives. Sub Surface Drip Irrigation will help the farmer
monitor in real time the moisture level in the soil near the roots and also assess how
to release the water for subsequent time periods. It allows an intelligent management
of the water and is based on multiple data parameters such as soil quality, crop type,
see variant, climatic conditions, rainfall received etc.
3. Crop Protection –
One of the technologies pioneered by Blue River technology uses AI to manage crops
in field. Deep Learning algorithms in tandem with photographs collected through
cameras attached to tractor and other farm implements allows collection of data and
comparison of the photographic evidence rich in data in order to analyze if there is a
prevalence of any pest or possible attack on the crop due to other factors. This then
allows a farmer to intelligently make use of herbicides or pesticides only for those crops
which have been identified to be problematic.
4. Having complete visibility of the value chain –
the recently announced E-NAM by the government is something visionary. It allows
farmers to take part in the trading of their farm produce commodities in an electronic
trading platform. But a farmer needs to be protected from falling prey to data theft and
obscurity.
The implementation of Blockchain technology into the entire value chain will ensure
complete visibility and immutability of transactions made. Transparency is key towards
reducing the influence of middle men and big traders who hold an advantage over the
farmer in terms of information and resources. Blockchain eliminates this curtain of
disinformation and makes every player accountable.
5. Tech to improve the Farm-to-Fork supply chain –
Indian agriculture has started reaping the benefits of a thriving startup culture. Some
of the disruptions in the farm-to-fork supply chain have been brought about by such
firms such as Ninjacart. Real time demand analysis from the point of sale (retailers)
allow these firms to keep farmers aware of what to grow and how much to grow. In the
future procurement will become a seamless process with no intermediaries and
farmers will be able to get proper remunerative prices and plan as per market statistics.

These are some of the suggestive methods which can shape the future of farmers’
tomorrow. Data Analytics, AI and Blockchain will be the technology of choice and no
body involved in the agricultural sector will be able to do without the aid of these
technologies.
The present pattern of sub optimal acerage of land will not change unless a sizeable
shift takes place in terms of employment but the country’s economic outlook and
present employment report does not inspire confidence for such large scale shifts.
Therefore increasing crop productivity under resource constraints will be the only
option left and technology will be able to make the lives of farmers much better with
this respect.eam