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How Technology Can Help Agribusinesses Prosper With the advent of new technology, one can measure and predict the produce at the village level for any type of crop with a high level of efficiency

By Sonu Agrawal

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India has placed itself as one of the leading contributors of the global food market. In 2016–17, after two successive years of worthless monsoons, the growth of agriculture in India has improved significantly. India's population has doubled since 1970, with this India requires doubled agricultural produce as well. There has been a huge pressure on India to meet domestic and international demands.

The major challenges faced by this sector includes a shrinking land base, dwindling water resources, the adverse impact of climate change, shortage of farm labour, increasing costs and uncertainties linked with the variability of international markets.

The key challenges faced by agriculture business in India are discussed hereunder:

  1. Timely information: A consistent factor that continues to be a challenge is the lack of timely information about market prices, crop varieties, production techniques, seasonal risks and disease control strategies. The question that crosses our mind is — how can we effectively apply information and communication technologies in agriculture to mitigate the risk factors that leads to the physical isolation of the rural smallholders.
  2. Reduction of cost: The most important challenge which needs improvement in the existing agriculture system is cost. Reduction of cost by saving the losses in the marketing chain, increasing the competition so that undue profits of some intermediaries can be reduced and the additional employment opportunities in the agricultural marketing system can be created.
  3. Water scarcity: India's ever growing, huge population places a severe strain on the natural resources it possesses, and most of its water resources are contaminated by sewage and agricultural run-off. While progress has been made, access to safe water still prevails in India. Agriculture business faces a great setback when it comes to water.

With the advent of technology the challenges can be conquered. The "uberization' of tractors and farm machines has the capability to fast-track farm working and also it can take it to the regions within India where farm sizes are really small, yet have abundant of water and divulges suitable soil and climate conditions that can produce much more than what they are producing as of date.

A number of new start-ups like Weather risk management pvt ltd are developing solutions with the latest technologically advanced ideas to deal with the climate change challenges. These start-ups are involved in monitoring and predicting the weather conditions and are providing agriculture risk solutions.

One such initiative, which works for providing agriculture information system to the farmers, is weather risk. It also gives commodity trading forecasts to help the farmers.

With the advent of new technology, one can measure and predict the produce at the village level for any type of crop with a high level of efficiency and can also accurately forecast the weather conditions in the short, medium, and long term. State of the art solar-powered products have been developed which can help the farmers in irrigation and cold storage of the crops, with the aim of fulfilling the needs of the smallholder farms and regions with limited or no electricity. Eco-friendly crop protection methods have been developed which have the capability to lessen a significant amount of the damage caused by pests and other insects without overdosing the crops and plants with chemicals and other medicines, thus preventing soil and water infections.

A variety of new digital applications can also accelerate interventions that have the capability to improve productivity and growth of the agricultural businesses. New applications can be launched like East Africa (connected farmer), to help the farmers work with agriculture businesses and better supervise their own crops and finances.

Using technology to develop a firm understanding of these challenges, India can open the doors for latest technologies to solve some of the oldest development problems in agricultural sector.

Sonu Agrawal

Founder & Managing Director, Weather & Climate Risk Pioneer

Sonu Agrawal is the Founder and Managing Director of Weather Risk Limited. Founded in 2004, WRL pioneered the development of the Weather Insurance market in India. Over 10 years, WRL has grown into a comprehensive global Climate Risk Management company with a fast growing footprint that spans India, Africa and Asia. A first generation entrepreneur, Sonu is an Indian Institute of Technology graduate where he studied Physics. He is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management.
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