Agriculture alongside its allied sectors remains one of the salient sources of livelihood in India, particularly among the rural communities. Yet Agriculture has also been a field encountering numerous struggles and drawbacks regarding its failing conditions. Agricultural Analytics is thus a term that focuses on an attempt to use data analytics as a tool to improve the agricultural conditions.
Agricultural Analytics is thus a term that focuses on the approach of using data analytics as a tool to enhance agricultural conditions.
Present Scenario of Agriculture in India
Presently, Agriculture remains the primary source of livelihood of nearly 58 percent of India’s population. Gross Value Added by agriculture, forestry, and fishing is estimated to be around Rs 18.53 trillion (US$ 271.00 billion) in FY18.
However presently the economic activity across India has pretty much reached a standstill after the commencement of countrywide lockdown by the government for preventing the spread of the highly infectious Covid-19 disease.
Although the activity of various industries has been put to a halt by the lockdown, the agriculture and allied sector activities have been allowed partially by the government.
According to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the Indian food processing industry has collectively attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) equity inflow of about US$ 9.08 billion between April 2000 and March 2019. Some major investments and developments in agriculture include 8500 crores, being invested in ethanol production. The above information is according to data retrieved from IBEF.
Various recent initiatives have been introduced by the government in agriculture. These include the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) which is an attempt at enhancing the productivity of agriculture, particularly in rainfed areas. Yet another initiative is the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), introduced in 2015 and continuing till 2019 which focuses on providing a solution for irrigation supply chain and to attempt to provide water in every field: - “Har khet mein paani”.
Approaches in Agricultural Data Analytics
There have been numerous approaches through which Analytics of Agricultural Data is being used to improve the Agricultural industry. These include:
Data as a tool for reducing food shortage:
By hiring data scientists, there have been attempts of using data analytics as a tool through data scientists to determine a way towards fighting world hunger and also of determining how fruitful the agricultural investments have been in various nations.
Data as a tool for handling pests:
While pests endanger farms and the profits of the farmers, failure to utilize these pesticides in an appropriate way can have an injurious impact on living beings. Hence Data scientists are hired to determine when and how much pesticides can be used by creating user-facing platforms. Examples of such tools can be Agrosmart’s internet of things (IoT) sensors which determine the type of insects on a crop and their quantity.
Agriculture Data Analytics tools
Data as a tool for dealing with Climate variations:
Unexpected variations in climate and numerous environmental challenges still remain one of the biggest hindrances in agriculture. These can be dealt with through the use of data as a tool with which climate change can be navigated and predicted and thus dealt with through more effective management of resources.
Data as a tool for saving costs and predicting yield:
Efficient and effective use of Data analytics can assist in saving the money expended by the farmers as well as in predicting yield to help the farmers to plan ahead for discrepancies.
Data as a tool for increasing productivity:
Farmers implementing precision agriculture are enjoying remarkable clarity in their operations with access to GPS guidance, drones, sensors, and control systems This helps them to manage their key resources like a seed, fertilizer, and pesticides in a better manner, thus increasing their productivity.
Improvement in Agriculture via Technology
Smart Farm Technology-
CropIn Technology Solutions Pvt Ltd introduced a cloud-based ‘SmartFarm’ platform which can incidentally detect any crop damage. This cutting-edge farm technology has recently been made available in India.
mKisan is an SMS portal set up by the President of India for farmers that empowers all central and state government organizations in agriculture and allied sectors to give information or services to farmers regarding agricultural practices. Under mKisan USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System) and Pull SMS are value-added services that have enabled farmers and other stakeholders to receive not only broadcast messages but also to get web-based services on their mobile without having internet facilities.
Multiple technical applications for smart farming
AI-Niti Aayog and IBM Collaboration-
A useful platform for the prediction of crop yield has been provided by NITI Aayog in collaboration with IBM. Here, the government collaborated with IBM to use Artificial Intelligence in developing a crop yield prediction model to provide real-time advisory to farmers. IBM’s platform assesses the data in an electronic field record to distinguish and impart crop management examples and insights.
Predictive Agricultural Analytics-
Predicting the appropriate time to sow crops generally poses a huge challenge for Indian farmers particularly with varying weather conditions added into the mix. An example of its application would be Microsoft in collaboration with ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics), which has generated an AI Sowing App that makes use of machine learning as well as business intelligence. The app conveys sowing alerts to participating farmers offering advice on the optimal date to sow.
The government has also been utilizing satellite data and (Geographic Information System) GIS Technology for estimation of crop production, horticultural inventory, analysis of the suitability of the site as well as for expansion of crop and assessment for drought. Satellite imagery has particularly been used in the Maha Agri project for assessing the expanse and the conditions of certain crops.
Implementing Mass-Media for Agricultural growth
While technology and data analytics are playing an essential role in improving the agricultural conditions, one of the biggest drawbacks remains the communication of these developments. This is where the role of Mass Media emerges..
Radio remains the biggest communicator of information when it comes to mass media, being the cheapest and having the privilege of the highest reach among rural areas, compared to the rest of the mediums. The government has various special audience programs that cover the farming communities. The Farm & Home unit in the Directorate has instructed its stations broadcasting the popular Kisan Vani program, to advise the farming community regarding the need to promote oilseed cultivation and pulses in the rice fallow areas.
Community Radio becomes another crucial aspect which is and can be utilized for improving agricultural conditions. Community radio being restricted within 10 -15 km of a selected area is therefore limited to the dialect of that particular community and hence can effectively be used for communicating information on new strategies and techniques, providing prompt information regarding the hold of crop pests & diseases and also for supplying news regarding the weather and market conditions. For this purpose, talks with experts, group discussions, folk songs, dialogues & dramas are often coordinated.
Television although less utilized is also an effective medium for the communication of agriculture. With news channels broadcasting the latest policies laid by the government, there are also varied programs in different states dedicated to Agriculture. These include Pon Vilayum Bhoomi on Doordarshan, Uzhavukku Uyiroottu on Puthiya Thalaimurai TV (A Tamil channel), Malarum Boomi on Mukkal TV and Payir Thozhil Pazhagu on News 18.
Print Media holds the advantage of being cheap and affordable, portable as well as a permanent medium. With increasing rates of literacy, the influence of the medium is becoming more promising overtime.It is crucial that technical information is provided to the farmers promptly and properly in order to The print media specializes in the extensive and detailed supply of information, making the medium useful for learning purposes of the various new technologies and developments in agriculture and also for the publishing of guidance from experts, various achievements, market news, research findings as well as the difficulties faced by the farming community.
A few popular magazines published from India include Indian Horticulture (a semi-technical, bi-monthly magazine in English), Indian Farming (monthly magazine in English), Kheti(monthly magazine in Hindi), Agriculture Today and Agro India.
There are also various Bollywood movies released which focus on the plight of farmers, helping make the struggles they face, known to the world, “Lagaan”, “Do Bigha Zameen”, “Kissan” etc being some examples.
As the use of and access to the Internet has grown, it has become a salient area in conveying agricultural information and enhancing its impact. Online access allows the nation and it’s farmers to learn international practices relating to agriculture, to participate in online trading as well as import-export.
Examples of several approaches which have taken a step towards improving the communication situation in rural areas include Unilever’s iShakti, an ICT approach, aAQUA (Almost all questions answered) is a wide range of online portals which focuses on answering farming queries as well as AGMARKNET which is a Customer Profile Agricultural Marketing Information Network (AGMARKNET). It is a project sponsored by the (DMI) ) to establish a nationwide information network which specializes in the prompt collection as well as dissemination of agricultural produce, wholesale prices and arrival information of commodities.
The above discussion highlights the importance of data collection and analysis in Agriculture. It throws light on the present state of the agricultural sector, the recent technologies developed to improve its condition as well as the role played by the mass media in communicating these technologies and innovations. For more updates and blogs on Analytics, Do read Analytics Steps.