India needs to adopt smart agriculture to improve productivity

Want create site? Find Free WordPress Themes and plugins.

By: K R Sudhaman

On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly repealed the three draconian farm laws to prevent a political snowball in the ensuing assembly elections. It is worthwhile to ponder over how to make Indian agriculture smart now that the controversial laws have been withdrawn.

It may be a political victory for opposition but is expected to end the prolonged farm agitation, at times violent, with repeal of the three contentious farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 These were enacted by Parliament in September last year amidst widespread protest from opposition parties.

The green revolution of 1960s ensured India became surplus in food grains production and the country no longer had famine. No deaths were reported due to food non-availability even during the difficult Covid times when many people lost jobs. But what has not happened in India so far is an increase in average productivity of Indian agriculture to global level so that the country becomes the food bowl of the world.

Indian farming has come a long way and today India is among the top nations in rice and wheat production, largest producer of milk, fruits, vegetables, pulses, sugar and so on. But the problem is that though India has pockets where productivity is highest comparable to global level, the average yield for most crops is among the lowest in the world despite having the most fertile land both in the Gangetic plains and southern peninsula. There are many reasons for it, including fragmentation of holding, poor techniques, un-optimal use of water, non-availability of quality seeds and fertilisers.

The average land holding of most of the poor farmers is less than 2 acres. India may have the largest irrigated land in the world, which is closely followed by China and is more than double that of irrigated land available in United States. But the problem is still a little over half of India’s farm land is rain-dependent. Dry land farming through drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation methods have not caught on substantially barring a few states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. China has only one seventh of its huge land mass as arable, unlike India where majority of its land is arable. Yet China’s average productivity is one of the highest in the world as compared India’s, one of the lowest.

Nearly 50 per cent of Indian population is still dependent on farming for livelihood but agriculture accounted for only 15 per cent of GDP resulting in low income in rural India and high rate of under-employment. So where have Indian policy makers gone wrong leading to this kind of paradoxical situation? In one word the answer is Indian agriculture needed to be made smart. We may have smart city projects but so far there is no plan evolved to make Indian farming smart. Perhaps experts could look into the matter and come out with a smart solution.

If India could replicate what Noble laureate Norman Borlaug did in Mexico for Green Revolution to fructify through adoption of hybrid wheat in Punjab and Haryana, why not replicate now the efforts of Uruguay to make India the food bowl of the world. Verghese Kurian’s efforts in Gujarat brought about White Revolution with practically all states replicating the Amul model. But in several other areas like oilseeds, pulses, India is far behind.

The Uruguay model is worth emulating.  To protect milch animals and improve productivity of farm products Uruguay has done scientific study for over a decade using data collected with the help of drones and satellites. Gou rakshaks would do well to adopt the Latin American way of protecting cows so as to raise farm income manifold for poor farmers.

Uruguay is a country in which on an average every farmer has 4 cows and is in number one position worldwide. It is a country with only 33 lakh people but has 1.2 crore cows. Every cow has an electronic chip on its ear.  Through the electronic chip, the owner can track and watch the movement while the farmer is sitting inside a machine to harvest the crop. The screen in front of his harvester not only keeps track of the cow, but also provides data on his crop as well as the cow. The farmer can self-analyse the yield per square metre through the data collected.

Through this smart agriculture, the farmer has not only ensured optimum use of his farm land to get maximum yield but also keep and get maximum milk yield. As a result the productivity and income of farmers have gone up manifold. In 2005 Uruguay’s 33 lakh people produced food grains for its 90 lakh people. Today Uruguay produces food grains for 2.8 crore people and the surplus is exported. Behind this success, was a decade long study by 500 agricultural engineers, who were hired to oversee the whole farming by keeping an eye on the farmer’s activity and the cows with the help of drones and satellites. Based on their study through the data collected, the engineers determined the optimal farming method for grain and milk production. Today all these farmers who were at subsistence level earn much more. The minimum income of a farmer in Uruguay now is $1,90,000 annually, which is equivalent to earning Rs 1,25,000 per month.

One only hopes farm experts in India too do a similar study to make Indian agriculture smart for poor farmers so that their income not only doubles but increases manifold. At present India’s farm exports accounted for only $40 billion annually. In the next few years it is proposed to be taken up to $100 billion and perhaps to $200 billion in a decade or so. The gourakshaks could also employ scientists to improve milk productivity by proper monitoring of cows. Many cows in India die after consuming plastic waste and this too could be tackled through data analysis. (IPA Service)

Did you find apk for android? You can find new Free Android Games and apps.

Leave A Reply