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Dhaka Tribune

WEF foresees technological revolution in India’s agriculture sector

The WEF highlights the importance of embracing AI and other cutting-edge technologies to reshape the Indian agriculture sector effectively

Update : 25 Jul 2023, 01:49 AM

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has asserted that India's agriculture sector is on the precipice of a technological revolution. According to the WEF, encouraging the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other cutting-edge technology can alter India's agricultural industry, driving economic growth and development. The Telangana government, in partnership with the WEF, has released the phase-one report of the "Saagu Baagu" (Telugu for "agriculture advancement") programme. The WEF's AI for Agriculture Innovation (AI4AI) initiative has already assisted over 7,000 chilli farmers in accessing agritech services in the first phase.

These agritech services, in the pilot stage of the project, include AI-based warnings, soil testing, product quality testing, and e-commerce. During phase II, the state government plans to expand the current and new agritech services to 20,000 groundnut and chilli pepper farmers in three districts, commencing in 2023. The second phase will also witness the establishment of digital public infrastructure. By 2025, phase III aims to reach 100,000 farmers in the state.

The WEF's AI4AI initiative aims to address the challenges of scaling emerging technologies. It focuses on facilitating the supply of agritech services to end-users through administrative and policy assistance, as well as digital public infrastructure, including the "Agriculture Data Exchange" and "Agritech Sandbox." This initiative is seen as a prime example of agricultural value chain transformation.

The WEF highlights the importance of embracing AI and other cutting-edge technologies to reshape the Indian agriculture sector effectively. However, these technologies face challenges such as a disjointed technological infrastructure, high operational costs, limited data access, and a lack of technical expertise, which restricts their full potential impact.

India's agriculture sector plays a crucial role in the country's economy, contributing nearly 16% to the GDP and employing approximately 42% of the population. However, it faces various challenges, such as unpredictable weather conditions, poor soil health, fragmented land-holding system, and post-harvest losses, which hinder its full potential for growth and productivity.

Integrating AI and other emerging technologies can significantly revolutionize agriculture in India. Smart farming powered by AI can optimize farming practices by using predictive analytics to make informed decisions about sowing and harvesting times. Additionally, AI algorithms can predict weather patterns and crop diseases, while AI-powered drones can monitor crop health and detect pest infestations, leading to more efficient pest management.

Internet of Things (IoT) can connect various farming tools and equipment, enabling real-time data collection and analysis. With this data, farmers can optimize water usage, reduce input costs, and increase productivity. Blockchain can streamline the agriculture supply chain by offering traceability and transparency, which can enhance trust and reduce food fraud. Moreover, blockchain can enable peer-to-peer transactions, eliminating intermediaries and ensuring fair prices for farmers.

Remote sensing technologies, such as satellite imagery or drones, can provide high-resolution, real-time data about soil health, weather conditions, and crop health. This technology can help monitor and manage crop growth, detect disease outbreaks, and assess the impact of natural disasters on crop yields.

However, to fully realize the benefits of these technologies, challenges like digital literacy among farmers, access to affordable technologies, data privacy, and the need for a supportive regulatory environment must be addressed.

To enable the adoption of these technologies, concerted efforts from the government, tech companies, agricultural institutions, and NGOs are required. Capacity-building programs can improve digital literacy among farmers, and policies that promote innovation and protect data privacy can create a conducive environment for technology adoption. Partnerships with tech companies can provide access to affordable technologies.

The World Economic Forum's vision of India's agricultural potential through AI and other emerging technologies is not merely a vision; it is a call to action. If approached strategically, these advancements can transform the Indian agriculture sector into a technologically advanced, economically viable, and sustainable industry.

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