India’s agriculture sector contributes a mere 17% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), though nearly 60% of rural households are engaged in agriculture and allied industries. New-age methods of agriculture management, coupled with technology, have improved agricultural practices and productivity, but much of the sector still lags when it comes to modernization.
However, in various parts of the country, farmers are beginning to adopt precision agriculture, a subcategory of agriculture technology (agritech), through machines and equipment that use data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), and robotics to optimize inputs and enhance yields.
The applications of precision agriculture technology are plenty, including data-driven predictive technologies to forecast climate conditions, estimate and make adjustments for potential losses, water quantity management for irrigation, and even for crop insurance. Precision agritech-based solutions also cover pre-harvest activities such as farm mechanization. India’s yield per hectare stands at 2.3 tonnes, as compared to the 4 tonnes overall in Asia, a difference of as much as 42%. Optimizing inputs through the use of data-driven and automated technologies can bring a paradigm changing solution to reduce this gap and maximize overall agricultural yield in India.
Similarly, precision farm technology can apply to post-harvest activities such as assessing the quality of produce, grading it, and supply chain management. Leveraging the full potential of agritech to solve the problems in India’s agriculture sector is possible with private capital. More importantly, agritech ventures and startups can also focus on developing farmer-inclusive business models to ensure positive, long-term economic outcomes. Agritech represents a huge potential for innovation, investment and impact.
Padmaja Ruparel is founding partner at Indian Angel Network.
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