India’s agriculture and allied sectors (incl. horticulture, livestock, fisheries) is, at present, at crossroads. On the one hand, ~58 per cent of India’s population depends on these sectors for livelihood; on the other, labour is shifting away from agriculture to service-oriented industries. Other challenges include declining land availability, lack of adequate research labs/tech transfer, inadequate marketing intelligence, etc.; the sector also lacks proper genetic resource management, low mechanisation, lack of technical and technological inputs, inadequate cold/storage chains and post-harvest management, etc.
The “Indian Agriculture – Next Wave: IT as the Game Changer” whitepaper aims to highlight areas of how, where and why ICT technologies are being leveraged to address these challenges:
- Data warehousing: Help education and practical training by virtually capturing and providing information; virtual labs can help enhance skills of students and accelerate R&D
- Data mining: Improve efficiency of predicting, e.g., weather patterns, pests and diseases, water management, precision agriculture, etc.
- Decision support systems: Provide extension services, e.g., expert advice on agronomy, pest or disease problems, risk management, optimal resource distribution, etc.
- Data science: Land/soil management, crop planning, market intelligence, etc.
- Modelling and simulation: For efficient natural resource utilisation, studying impact of weather, predicting pest/disease occurrence/crop productivity, market demand, etc.
- Embedded systems: Measure soil temperature and humidity, etc.
- GIS/GPS: For estimating crop production, draught and change in farming patterns; also for developing precision agriculture/horticulture/livestock farming systems
Information technology, with its ability to positively impact all components and stakeholders, holds great promise for the agriculture and allied sectors. However, this transformational impact can only be felt if all stakeholders ensure technology transfer across the value chain.