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Making India a Leader In Agri Innovation It is observed that the application of technology in this space can solve many such challenges, thanks to agritech startups that are working towards making farmers' lives fair and better

By Amith Agarwal

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COVID-19 has exhibited massive disruptions across the globe. However, various sectors have also demonstrated their resilience against the pandemic by leveraging technological innovation. Indian agriculture is one such sector that has realized the potential of technology and has thus started investing in it to revolutionize this space.

But what about the existing challenges that have stayed here for ages?

The sector accounts for 18 per cent of the country's GDP, employing 50 per cent of its workforce. But the environmentally stimulated problems have continuously plagued farmers with low yield and crop failure. Adding to their woes is the small size of farm holdings among majority of Indian farmers. Although India comprises near to 124 million small and marginal farmers, the area of farmland in their names is even less than two hectares.

There is not one but multiple reasons behind this challenge, including fragmentation in the supply chain, slow adoption new technologies, intermediaries, etc. A combination of these problems and archaic regulations eventually affect both the farm and farmers' productivity.

However, it is observed that the application of technology in this space can solve many such challenges, thanks to agritech startups that are working towards making farmers' lives fair and better in every aspect using technological solutions.

With innovations such as e-mandi that connects farmers to buyers digitally (wholesalers, retailers, and end-consumers), farmers can discover and sell fresh produce to consumers at a fair price online. These platforms leverage AI-based quality testing solutions to ensure that buyers get product assurance while farmers get a better price.

What makes these platforms appealing is their intuitiveness and easy-to-use interface that enable farmers to register, sell and receive payments seamlessly, without the hassles of visiting mandis physically. E-mandi also allows a farmer to check the prevailing prices across the platform and thus make an informed decision on their selling price.

Easy procedure

All a farmer needs to do is register on the platform and upload his produce by incorporating the relevant details. Post this, buyers, be it traders, merchants, or corporates, can place their orders. When an order is finalized, the on-ground staff of these agritech startups pick up the produce from a suitable pickup point decided by the farmer and eventually deliver it to the buyer's destination. In this process, farmers earn 15-20 per cent higher profit than local marketplaces.

Making the right decisions

Using these platforms, farmers can also access real-time location-specific weather and traffic views. It helps them make the right decisions on harvesting, processing, storage, and supply of their produce, without worrying about on-ground logistics that is taken care of by these startups. This helps farmers prevent wastage and spoilage of food in the wake of inaccurate weather information and assumptions.

What lies ahead?

India has always been an agrarian economy, and with the use of technology across the agri-value chain, innovations are happening. These solutions will be proven, tested and scalable because of India's 1 billion consumer opportunity. Today Indian agriculture is being modernized and going digital because of the coming together of agritech startups, FPO's and the government to create an ecosystem that is tech-driven, trusted and transparent. Digitization of the Indian farmland will be the real game-changer in India's agri-innovation movement. With the absence of intermediaries, information asymmetry and geographic stipulations to sell their produce, the Indian farmer can boost his earnings and lead a better life.

Amith Agarwal

Co-Founder & CEO, AgriBazaar

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