Transitioning India: From Agriculture to AgriTech

This transformative shift aims to create a more sustainable and efficient agricultural ecosystem with state-of-the-art technologies, data and use integration of various stakeholders for the AgriTech industry.

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Hitanshu Bhatt
New Update
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India's transition from being primarily an agricultural nation to emerging as a significant player in the AgriTech industry has been nothing short of a revolution. Let’s understand from the experts what led to this change. 

India, being an agrarian country, relies heavily on fields and farms as the bread and butter for many farmers. Despite the hardships, many lives depend on the cultivation of crops. Agriculture, as the primary source of income, has been the front-runner in the country’s growth, but every perennial process needs a modern push to scale it to a higher level. With the constant use of manual labor and traditional farming practices, India reached a stagnant point in agriculture. Although it has a large number of farmers working relentlessly, there is only so much those bare hands can do, and that is when there was a need to bring in a changemaker. With the advent of technology, the Indian economy is slowly shifting its focus from just being an agrarian country to becoming an AgriTech country.

But what factors led to this path-breaking change?

India's transformation into an AgriTech nation is propelled by a convergence of factors. Government initiatives, such as progressive amendments and relaxation of laws, have created an environment conducive to technological advancements. These advancements have led to digitalization, precision farming, financial inclusion through digital payment systems, and climate-smart agriculture. Similarly, the growing demand for AgriTech solutions, fueled by the need for increased efficiency and sustainability in agriculture, has played a pivotal role. Improved financial inclusion, coupled with a focus on data-driven decision-making for better yields and income, has accelerated the widespread adoption of AgriTech.

agritech companies in india
 Dr. Ramesh Chandra Biswal, Mrityunjay Sahu, Agnishwar Jayaprakash and Anand Chandra in the clockwise direction

While these are the points that have been noted due to the growth in the ecosystem, Anand Chandra, Co-founder and Executive Director of Arya.ag - an integrated grain commerce platform, mentioned, 'Climate change challenges have also necessitated technological solutions for adaptive and resilient agriculture.' Another significant aspect is the role of AgriTech startups and their path-breaking solutions in assisting farmers and agricultural processes. When we asked the founders of different AgriTech companies, we found some much-needed solutions that address the core problems faced by farmers and stakeholders in this sector.

"Manually spraying pesticides is a time-consuming and taxing job. To combat this situation, Garuda Aerospace - a drone company - has introduced 'Kisan Drones' specially designed for farmers. 'This drone helps the farmers' fraternity with state-of-the-art technology and solutions for spraying insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers, thereby keeping them away from life-threatening medical disorders and diseases,' said Agnishwar Jayaprakash, founder and CEO of Garuda Aerospace. The Kisan Drone is equipped with Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and GPS sensors to provide farmers with accurate and real-time information about their farms and crops. It features surveillance and mapping systems that aid in crop health monitoring, surveillance, industrial inspection, yield measurement, and crop loss mitigation

kisan drone

With exceptional innovations and upgrades in technologies like AI and machine learning, aqua-farming companies such as Bariflo Labs have implemented farm economics, credit systems for data-driven aquaculture, and automation through developed robotic aquaculture management systems. Mrityunjay Sahu, founder of Bariflo Cybernetics, explains, 'Aquafarming involves cultivating crops in freshwater or brackish water, such as fisheries or phytoplankton, which can be monetized. With our model, we provide end-to-end solutions to farmers through farm economics, understanding the expenses of marginal farmers, and connecting them to relevant solutions through AI-advisory and GIS-based digital twin, which alerts farmers of diseases, environmental conditions, and market price fluctuations.'

After pre-production and production activities are carried out with ease, there is a need to streamline post-production activities, which are often neglected. Even if it is a point of focus, most post-harvest players and banks concentrate their presence in peri-urban and larger tertiary agricultural markets. This centralization has led to a glaring absence of formal linkages for storage, finance, and market integration at the farmgate level.

villamart

VillaMart, a Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) market platform, empowers farmers to sell their produce at fair prices by eliminating unnecessary intermediaries. Leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as AI-based procurement, smart storage, and an efficient distribution system, VillaMart minimizes wastage, ensuring maximum benefits for farmers. 'The introduction of a franchise model provides farmers with a direct channel to deliver their products to VillaMart outlets, breaking free from traditional supply chain constraints,' emphasizes Dr. Ramesh Chandra Biswal, Founder and CEO at VillaMart.

Arya.ag

As we discuss post-harvest activities, it is important to aggregate quality produce and identify suitable warehouses for marginalized farmers. Arya.ag’s platform leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) for consistent quality assurance and data analysis at the farm gate. 'In this model, produce entering the warehouse is quality-checked, and each stack of grains is given a unique identification. This translates to a ‘digital balance’ on Arya.ag’s application interface that can be used to track the produce’s movement and status, including fortnightly or monthly commodity health reports,' emphasizes Anand Chandra.

Barifflo labs

All these implementations have become possible due to increased investment from venture capitalists, interested stakeholders, and government initiatives to support AgriTech startups. Various intermediaries like the ICAR-CIBA system and online payment systems like UPI have also bolstered online transactions for farmers. Secondly, government initiatives like the Namo Drone Didi scheme, which is part of the Vikshit Bharat Sankalp Yatra, as well as PM-KISAN, PM-AASHA, PMSKY, and PM-KMY, along with other supportive policies, have contributed to this change.

The future holds promise through technology integration across the agricultural value chain. From advanced weather forecasting to smart crop planning, technology promises time efficiency, reduced reliance on manual labor, minimized food wastage, increased income, and enhanced community respect for the farming profession. This transformative shift aims to create a more sustainable and efficient agricultural ecosystem with state-of-the-art technologies. Important data will further help farmers use the right tools or make the right moves to safeguard their productivity. Instead of going to their vast farm fields and conducting farm inspections, they will be able to know what measures need to be taken with just a simple tap on their phones, providing them more time to focus on their primary activities and produce better harvests. All experts believe that these factors together will foster a conducive ecosystem for innovation and advancements in the future.

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