The digital applications created by such startups are helping farmers improve individually as well as collectively when they connect the farmers of different regions where they can share their issues, problems, suggestions, pictures etc.,
Kishori, a small farmer in UP, was growing traditional crops for the last 25 years. Inspired by the talks around him he decided to move from his traditional crops to growing vegetables. But instead of increased income, he was shocked as he was suffering over 40% loss in produce because of soil borne diseases and pest attacks as vegetables are more prone to the diseases as compared to crops. After suffering heavy losses for 2 continuous seasons, he decided to move back to grains cultivation. The input cost in traditional crops is also lesser as compared vegetables. Then, he was introduced to an app-based platform accessible on his smartphone where like-minded farmers meet and discuss their problems and find solutions. From them, Kishori learnt and adopted some current best practices for his traditional crops which have resulted in healthy produce and higher income for him too.
The above is a story of one ‘Kishori’ who discovered solutions enabled by technology. India, with half its population still engaged in agriculture, has lakhs of ‘Kishoris’ who need to answer to thousands of other problems. And many are finding solutions in the services of Agri-Tech startups which are gradually becoming a significant part of the Indian Economy. More than 1000 in number now, the agri-techs have started providing major support to the agricultural setup in the country. The agriculture sector which remains unorganized in large parts is experiencing a revolution of sorts after the Green Revolution of the 1960s.
The word Agri-Tech is very wide but in simple terms, we can say that it is an ecosystem of companies that are leveraging modern-day information technology to provide products or services to farmers which help in significantly improving both the overall performance and profitability for farmers across the agricultural value chain.
India has a high percentage of small and marginal farmers who lack proper equipment, resources, and progressive knowledge. In fact, even well-to-do and large farm owners too are in continuous need of knowledge. The whole farming community, including the non-farmer stakeholders, need proper guidance, the right direction and the latest information that can be provided by the agri-tech startups. The unorganized form of this sector has made the contribution of such startups even more significant.
Different agri-tech startups are working in different ways – from on-ground micro-level help like soil analysis of a farm to macro-level services like predicting environmental effects using satellite images to personal help in procuring supplies and selling the produce, even creating dedicated social networks in the sector for better reach and accessibility.
The digital applications created by such startups are helping farmers improve individually as well as collectively when they connect the farmers of different regions where they can share their issues, problems, suggestions, pictures etc., and help them find or discover necessary, sometimes innovative, solutions and suggestions from the experts in the field. The knowledge transaction scores high as people in the sector now access information anytime and also learn from online tutorials on different apps.
The farmers who have been early adopters of tech-based agri-services vouch for the savvy tips they have learnt for improving the yield as well as quality, durability, and variety. Some tasks or problems, scientific quality inspection of crops, which were considered impossible are now being efficiently handled by leveraging technologies like Artificial Intelligence.
Agri-techs are instrumental in slowly changing the very face of the agro sector by making resources available, by showing ways to employ resources intelligently, by wide-spread dissemination of collective knowledge and by bringing the world closer to the farmers through technology.