Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture
Mains level: e-technology in the aid of farmers
• Recently, two significant documents relating to the Indian agriculture sector were released.
1. ‘India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA)’ from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
2. ‘Indian Agriculture: Ripe for Disruption’ from a private organisation, Bain and Company.
About India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture
• Digital revolution: It talks about a digital revolution in the agriculture sector and designs the blueprint of “digital agriculture”.
• Idea of integration: Improvement of farmers’ livelihood through tight integration of agri-tech innovation and the agriculture industry ecosystem to farming and food systems. It provides for the openness of data i.e. open to businesses and farmers.
• Value-added innovative services: By agri-tech industries and start-ups are an integral part of the IDEA architecture.
• Farm laws are significant: These will lead to a single national market with a national platform with better connection between producer and consumers.
• The reforms have been depicted as a game-changer in the agriculture sector.
About ‘Indian Agriculture: Ripe for Disruption’
• Data-based prediction: It predicts future trajectories of agri-business scenarios in another 20 years while anchoring to the agricultural set-up at present.
• It predicts a drastic investment opportunity development by 2025.
• Agriculture sector (currently $370 billion) is estimated to receive an additional $35 billion investment.
• Reasons behind the investment: Changes in the regulatory framework, especially:
• Recent changes in the Farm Acts.
• Alternative forms of agriculture: It includes targeting the production of alternative proteins, and food cell-based food/ingredients and initiating ocean farming, etc.
• A ‘today forward– future back approach’: It enables the creation of value at present time while moving toward future vision.
• Doubling farmers’ income targets: Benefiting from the huge investments into the agri-ecosystem, this target can be achieved in near future.
Criticism and Challenges
• Data misuse: Ethics of creating a Unique Farmer ID based on one’s Aadhaar number and also the potential for data misuse.
• Not enough deliberation: Beyond the news coverage about the prospects of achieving the goal of Doubling Farmers Income; the Bain report has not been widely discussed, at least in the public domain.
• No landless farmers in new database
• Digital illiteracy among farmers: Both reports heavily relied upon digital disruption to improve farmers’ livelihoods, without discussing how much farmers will be prepared to benefit from these newly emerging business environments. Fact is that a majority of small and marginal farmers are not technology-savvy.
• No consideration to on-going farmers protest: Reports ignore the protest of farmers against the reforms without considering it as a barrier or risk factor resulting in a repealing of these new farm laws.
• Two reports look forward to benefiting from the recent agriculture legislature changes without perceiving the capacity-building required at a farmer’s end.
• Capacity building of the farmers in India: Until the educated young farmers replace the existing under-educated small and medium farmers.
• It can be done through a mixed approach:
1. Building the capacities of individual farmers.
2. Coping with the new situation by establishing support systems, through FPOs and other farmers associations.
• Therefore, knowing the fact that a data revolution is inevitable in the agriculture sector, given its socio-political complexities, we cannot just count on technology fixes and agri-business investments for improving farmers’ livelihoods.
• There need to be immense efforts to improve the capacities of the farmers in India and every stakeholder must contribute towards this.
Q.1) With reference to the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Award for National Integration and National Contribution, consider the following statements:
1. The award carries five lakh rupees each, a citation and an angavastram.
2. It is an initiative of National School of Drama.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2