Application of Digital India to Boost Agricultural Sector
Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 667
, Published on 01 November 2016
Agriculture sector forms an important part of Indian Economy. The share of agriculture in national income of India is about 17.9 percent which is very high compared to the other developed countries such as in USA 3% share and in Canada 4% share is contributed by agriculture sector towards national income. India is the world’s largest producer of pulses and spices and second largest producer of wheat, rice, cotton etc. In such a scenario, it becomes imperative that the agriculture sector in India should be updated continuously through wise use of technology and innovation.
Agriculture sector in India faces a lot of infrastructural issues. But there are a lot of other issues which affects the productivity significantly. In India, most of the farmers do not have the relevant information which they need. The information can be related to the technological innovations, financial sources, insurance etc. The farmers in India require agri information. Most of the farmers are dependent on the information spread through word of mouth in rural India. Only a small population of farmers receives information through TV or radio. After the farmers have cut the crop, they require market information to select the best prices and vendors. Unfortunately, due to lack of proper facilities, they have to depend on multiple middlemen, who take away all the margins and only a nominal amount comes to the pockets of poor farmers. It is very unfortunate that the sector which employs more than 50 percent of Indian population is lacking so much.
While the problems related to the infrastructure like warehouses, machines etc. should be resolved but digital Indian initiative by government of India can do wonders in agriculture sector. Digital India is basically a platform to provide the people of India various services through digitally enabled devices. It comprises of providing services via internet on phones, computers etc. The objective of digital India in agriculture sector is to provide the government services to the farmers in rural and urban areas electronically. Jayalaxmi Agrotech Private Limited develops mobile apps which provide a lot of information to the farmers on real time basis. These apps are available in regional languages to facilitate the use of app in different areas.
RML Information Services Pvt. Ltd. (RML) provides agri information through SMS facility on mobile phones. RML Direct provides information about the various stages of crop cycle, weather, market rates etc. through mobile SMS. myRML is a mobile app which provides services related relevant at each level of crop cycle, advisory services, weather news etc. Krishidoot is a web based platform which works as an intermediary between the farmers’ communities, and agri businesses so that the transactions can take place between both the parties in a fait and transparent manner. R-Edge is a web tool which assists agri lending banks, procurement organizations and other related parties by providing timely and accurate market information. RMLpro provides all the relevant information which help the farmers and other agri communities make wise decisions.
The agriculture share in total exports of India is over 10 percent which is quite more in comparison to other developed countries. It helps us in earning the foreign exchange. If proper attention is given to this sector, it can help in correcting the Balance of Payment of India. mServices, mAgriculture, mGramBazar, Agri e-commerce platform etc. are a number of platforms under digital India initiative to help agriculture sector grow. All such initiative have brought about a revolution in the agriculture sector. Millions of farmers are availing the benefits of Digital India initiatives. The incomes of the farmers have increased multifold as they are getting sufficient prices for their crops. The information related to the weather made available to the farmers on real time basis help farmers in taking preventive steps beforehand. The farmers learn a lot of new methods and techniques of agriculture through a number of tools such as Agri-informatics. The government is trying to establish a national market for agricultural produce. Once this market is established, the farmers would get high revenues by connecting to these national markets through electronic platforms.
ITC is successfully operating a brilliant platform called e-chaupal. These e-choupals are run by local farmers provided with some basic training to operate the web tools. The company provides all the necessary infrastructural facilities for this programme. The farmers can get various information related to weather conditions, prices in the market and other news related to agriculture. It provides a virtual market where the farmers can sell their crops at the prices available in the market. TCS owned platform “mKRISHI” provides advisory services to the farmers over mobile phones in audio-visual mode. The farmers put their query and get the status of their queries through electronic messages. They can get expert advice when the experts are available. Additionally, the information like weather conditions, prices, new methods and techniques etc. are also provided to the farmers.
Digital India is a boon for agriculture sector. One of the latest digital India initiatives is “e-sagu”. It provides expert advices to the farmers at their doorsteps only. With the use of internet and audio-visual communication facility, the advices are provided to the farmers regularly regarding the various techniques to increase the farm productivity. Another emerging digital tool is Community Radio (CR). Community Radio fulfils the information needs of the farmers using radio station facilities. Digital Green is a brilliant initiative that accomplishes the task of dissemination of agricultural information using videos. There are a number of other initiatives taken under digital India programme which gives the farmers information about source of finances, warehouses availability, government subsidies, soil testing and irrigation facilities, preventive actions in case of droughts and floods, complaints redressal facilities and many other such facilities. All of these initiatives under Digital India programme have been helping the Indian farmers increase their productivity and earn more and more profits.
However due to some hurdles present in the system, Digital India is not able to provide the maximum benefits to the farmers. Most of the farmers live in rural India. The farmers at these remote and backward places do not have access to internet, smartphones and computers. Without fulfilling these basic infrastructural requirements, Digital India initiatives can't provide benefits to them. Even in the areas where the farmers have access to these appliances, due to rampant digital illiteracy in rural areas, they are not able to make proper use of them. Digital India programme has a lot of potential for agriculture sector. To utilize this untapped potential, the government should provide the digital infrastructure and digital literacy to those farmers who don’t have access to these facilities. Timely feedback should be taken from the farmers whether the information provided to them under digital India programme is helpful for them. The farmers should be encouraged to give suggestions so that the farmers can be provided more and more facilities. The government is taking a lot of steps to make facilities under Digital India accessible to all the farmers. But it will take some years for Digital India programme to prove a big success in agriculture sector.
This article has been authored by Karteek Kala from IIM Raipur