[Editorial Analysis] Seeding a data revolution in Indian agriculture Data revolution in Indian agriculture

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture
Mains level: e-technology in the aid of farmers

Context:

• 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.

Digital disruption:

• 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.

Solution

• 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.

Way forward:

• 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.

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Prelims Questions:

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

Answer: A

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