Recommends vigorous use of geographic information technology in farming for enhancing output and profits
Agriculture is essential for life maintenance on planet earth but its’ practices remain primitive even after enormous development in other industry! Now it is mandatory to bring a change in farming practices to feed the massive population that continues to increase forever. The solution lies with IT industry that has the potential to improve the production alongside managing all problems such as climate change, labour issue etc.
Mr. Kunal Tiwari, Executive Director, Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) advocates use of IT driven technologies for the betterment of farming to produce better. In his words, “In this present era the success of large-scale farming highly relies on geographic information technology (GEO-ICT) through what is known as precision farming. With the use of remote sensing, GPS and GIS, farmers can be able to understand site-specific needs of their farms. With this information, they are capable of formulating and implementing management techniques that will ensure the optimal use of inputs to maximize their output and profits.”
Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development, encourages and facilitates rural communities to adopt an integrated approach to agriculture and work towards achieving better returns and economic success. The organization is based at New Delhi.
GEO-ICT provide a farmer with an information resource that he can use to make informed decisions that guarantee effective and efficient management of the farm to maximize its productivity. Thus, farmers can understand and implement these technologies in conjunction with their experience and expertise to get maximum benefits of their farms. A few of such technologies are-
• Global Positioning System
• Geographic information systems
• Remote Sensing
• Computer-controlled devices (automated systems)
• Smartphone mobile apps
GEO-ICT would act as an agent for changing agrarian and farmers’ life by improving access of information and sharing knowledge. The ICT tools can change the ideas, activities and knowledge of the farmers. Farmers feel empowered and can adopt appropriate measures at the time of need.
These new-age technologies have made its way significantly into the agricultural sector, and with positive results. Mr. Tiwari throws light on few affirmative effects of GEO-ICTs in agriculture:
• Improved decision making – By having the necessary information, farmers—big and small can make better and more informed decision concerning their agricultural activities.
• Better planning– GEO and ICT has paved the way to come up with farming software which can keep better track of crops, predict yields, when to best plant and what to plant, to intercrop or focus on just one product, or determine the current need of the crops—just about everything needed to improve production and income.
• By adjusting to the modern farming methodologies, farmers can have better control of their crops. Gaining information from their farm is essential in sustaining its success and fuelling further growth.
• Community involvement – There are several programs which are made possible by GEO-ICT based applications, and community involvement in agriculture can be increased as well. When a community adopts modern methods for agriculture, the production of local goods can be increased.
As an affordable and accessible means of communication, rural communities are realizing the potential of mobile telephony to create economic opportunities and strengthen social networks. With a pickup in the Internet usage and increase in smartphone penetration in rural areas, farmers have been able to make use of the Internet to research on farming solutions. The government along with various companies and NGOs has introduced mobile applications for farmers that provide real-time data about weather, local markets, seeds, fertilizers among other things. In addition, farmers can also interact and get guidance from agriculture experts across the country via the apps.
When asked technology in agriculture will be productive but it is very expensive too, Mr. Tiwari clarifies, “The smallholder farmer, who is much more exposed to the risks of agriculture, including climate change the smallholder farmer, who barely has a profit margin, and is often cultivating just to feed his family. So it is he who needs low cost strategies more than anyone else. Though such technologies are a bit expensive, community involvement and FPO concept are making these accessible to the group of farmers to use it effectively. There are several programs which are made possible by ICT applications, and community involvement in agriculture can be increased as well. When a community adopts modern methods for agriculture, the production of local goods can be increased.”
“ICT has allowed for innovations that bring financial services, including mobile money, to smallholder farmers enabling financial institutions to support such farming community by providing loans at easy rates and also assisting them with various other schemes. ICT facilitates knowledge generation, documentation, and sharing in support of farmers and of farmer innovations,” he adds.
“Progressive farmers are seeking out new tools to meet the challenges to feed the world. The next generation of farmers is much more comfortable in trusting the technology. There is a considerable effort not just by technology companies, but also by the manufacturers of tractors, sprayers, combines and other equipment to both educate the farmers and also integrate these technologies into the equipment so that they become part of the new tools which are more productive and efficient. Farmer organizations can function more efficiently by using information communication technologies (ICTs) to attract and retain a wider membership, generate more funds, and provide better services to their members,” he highlights.
Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development intends to set up 1 acre model precision agriculture farm with help of GEO-ICT solution providers which shall serve as centre for excellence for entire farming community in the country. “We have joined hands with various ICT companies in country for latest technology dissemination in rural areas. Also we have developed partnership with GODAN (Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition) to capitalize partnership in seeking International mileage in ICT for Agriculture domain,” he shares.
He concludes, “The GEO-ICT industry is very positive about the future however it may take some time to come in full swing in India. The present effort indicates that the major sector which will dominate the market using ICT and geospatial technology will be agriculture where overall demand will increase by 1.1 % per annum, energy anticipates 1.7% growth per annum, and infrastructure represents 10% to global GDP.”
Mr. Kunal Tiwari is currently heading Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development in capacity of Executive Director and also leading Global Trade facilitation for Agribusiness at Indian Council ofFood and Agriculture. He has dedicatedly contributed towards sustainable agriculture practices,precision agriculture and rural upliftment with value addition in various parts of the country.He has represented country on various global platformswith perspective on precision agriculture and judicious use of GEO-ICT models in Agriculture. He holds a bachelor degree in Agriculture & Technology and a post graduate diploma in Agribusiness & Plantation Management.
Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development
306, Rohit House, Tolstoy Road, New Delhi, Delhi 110001
Phone: 011 2373 1128