Digital Agriculture

News: Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare signed 5 Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with private companies for taking forward Digital Agriculture. These pilot projects are part of the Digital Agriculture Mission and will draw on the National Farmers Database which already includes 5.5 crore farmers identified using existing national schemes.

Digital Agriculture:

  • Digital Agriculture is “ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and data ecosystems to support the development and delivery of timely, targeted information and services to make farming profitable and sustainable while delivering safe nutritious and affordable food for all.”
  • Agricultural biotechnology is a range of tools, including traditional breeding techniques, that alter living organisms, or parts of organisms, to make or modify products; improve plants or animals; or develop microorganisms for specific agricultural uses.
  • Precision agriculture (PA) is an approach where inputs are utilised in precise amounts to get increased average yields, compared to traditional cultivation techniques such as agroforestry, intercropping, crop rotation, etc. It is based on using ICTs. Digital and wireless technologies for data measurement, Weather monitoring, Robotics/drone technology, etc.

Pros:

  • Increases agriculture productivity.
  • Prevents soil degradation.
  • Reduces chemical application in crop production.
  • Efficient use of water resources.
  • Disseminates modern farm practices to improve the quality, quantity and reduced cost of production.
  • Changes the socio-economic status of farmers.

Cons:

  • Higher cost discourages the farmers to adopt digital methods of farming.
  • Indian farms are very small in size and 1-2 acres farm plots are the most common. Also, agricultural land leasing under various arrangements is widely prevalent in India.
  • Due to both limited financial resources and small farm plots, renting and sharing platforms rather than outright purchase for equipment and machinery like tractors, harvesters etc.
  • The lack of basic computer literacy hinders the fast development of e-Agriculture.