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Innovations in Agriculture: Boosting Rural India and GDP Growth

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  • Post published:October 21, 2023
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Last Updated on January 9, 2024 by Kanakkupillai

Innovations in agriculture hold tremendous promise to enhance rural economic development. Innovations may contribute significantly to rural economic progress by increasing agricultural productivity, decreasing food costs, and reducing chemical usage in production processes.

Automating farming reduces labour time and increases crop yield while cutting the cost of supplies and improving soil health. One UK farmer discovered that confining farm machines to permanent traffic lanes reduced damage caused by these machines by up to 90%.

Innovations in Agriculture

1. FarmBeats

Agriculture has long been an economic development engine, supporting millions of small-scale farmers and landless workers. However, rising food demand has resulted in more fertilizers and chemicals being used and energy and water costs rising further, necessitating importation of products and improved farming practices utilizing technology such as sensors, drones and spraying systems to decrease costs while improving efficiency and lowering environmental impacts.

However, for many farmers, these technologies remain limited by cost and poor connectivity. Furthermore, tech companies promoting digital agriculture do not provide any field support to their customers; instead, they rely on satellite data collected by private and public agronomists and from those food companies still visiting farms.

FarmBeats, an agricultural innovation platform, provides seamless data collection from sensors, tractors, drones and satellites. Utilizing AI for data aggregation and analysis, FarmBeats helps partners enhance their agronomic services with insights into crop conditions, such as soil moisture maps and up-to-date forecasts of climate conditions and weather forecasts.

FarmBeats has developed a solar-powered base station to overcome connectivity issues for rural farmers. Based on TV White Spaces technology – using unutilized frequencies between television broadcasts to transmit data – this solution relays data directly from rural farm locations without costly terrestrial lines and is cost-efficient and durable.

FarmBeats allows farmers to make better decisions, saving both time and money. Studies have demonstrated how using this platform can reduce crop spraying usage by as much as 90 percent and save thousands in labour and production costs.

As food demand continues to increase, innovations in agricultural technology will play a pivotal role in meeting it while simultaneously conserving natural resources and mitigating environmental impacts. To accomplish this goal, education and training for farming communities is of great importance; rural communities should also have better infrastructure to connect to markets and telecommunications networks. The World Food Program has supported such efforts through pilot programs for agricultural technology startups.

2. Agrocares

As India’s agricultural sector remains vulnerable to global food chains, innovation is the key to unlocking productivity leaps. While most past advances have been mechanical, such as improved machinery or genetic research resulting in more productive seeds or fertilizers, digital tools are emerging that enable farmers to take control of their own destinies.

Digital technologies are revolutionizing decision-making for farmers, helping them manage risk and variability for improved yields and economics. Furthermore, these tools can offer data-backed insights for sustainable and efficient use of resources like water, land, energy and nutrients.

Digital awareness in rural India has allowed both newcomers and long-established firms to introduce innovative business models, including offtake marketplaces, storage and transport services, and agronomy advisory services.

Agrocares is capitalizing on this momentum by offering affordable and user-friendly digital tools for agriculture. Their agronomist-enabled software aims to help farmers optimize crop production. By combining field data with market forecasting capabilities, Agrocares technology allows farmers to maximize returns while simultaneously minimizing waste and environmental impacts.

The agricultural testing industry is experiencing rapid technological transformation as major players introduce faster and more accurate testing methods that increase competitiveness while simultaneously improving consumer safety. Furthermore, new technology provides solutions for more specific agricultural tasks like soil moisture monitoring or nutrient analysis.

To foster rural GDP growth, the government must ensure its policies and programs address the needs of farmers. These needs include providing access to capital, assuring product safety and promoting climate-smart farming practices; furthermore, the government must develop agroecosystems that foster market stability and economic development in rural areas.

To foster rural economic development, the 2023-24 budget should increase outlays for productive rural schemes and establish an agtech facilitation cell to connect farmers with private companies. This can increase Rabi sowing and Kharif harvests while simultaneously decreasing inflationary pressures; additionally, it could boost new technologies like blockchain, drones, and artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives. Finally, a sizable dedicated fund must exist to finance tax relief measures, interest subventions and interest subsidization for this development to occur.

3. RTK Technology

RTK Technology is an emerging agricultural innovation helping farmers increase crop yields while cutting costs. Utilizing GPS satellite signals, this innovation uses precise location tracking technology to pinpoint devices down to centimetre accuracy – ideal for precision farming and drone mapping applications and helping reduce pesticide and fertilizer use by accurately mapping fields and pinpointing problem spots quickly and precisely. Furthermore, RTK Tech can even be used to improve traits like disease resistance for higher-yielding plants.

Real-Time kinematics, commonly referred to as RTK, is an advanced technique designed to increase GNSS receiver accuracy to centimetre levels. RTK works by comparing theoretical positions calculated in real-time by satellites with actual positions of receivers – this allows RTK receivers to correct for errors in their positioning, resulting in highly precise positions – making RTK significantly more accurate than standard GPS technology, which only offers 2-4-6 meter accuracy.

RTK in agriculture offers numerous advantages, including precision mapping and monitoring of crops for better decision-making and higher crop yields. Furthermore, RTK can reduce pesticide and fertilizer usage, which could harm the environment while simultaneously cutting labour costs and increasing productivity.

RTK technology in agriculture can bring many advantages for all sectors, from horticulture to broad-acre farming. RTK can help improve drainage systems on horticultural farms to prevent excess water from running off their fields and destroying crops; alternatively, it can train robotic farmhands that replace human harvesters – saving on hiring costs and training needs and improving productivity by eliminating manual labour.

RTK technology is also being applied in developing autonomous tractors that can automatically steer away from obstacles and reduce labour costs. This network-based method achieves centimetre-level precision; RTK robots also utilize it to navigate fields for manual labour tasks like fruit picking.

4. Ellenex

AgriTech innovations are revolutionizing how we cultivate crops and farm animals, helping farmers monitor the individual needs of crops and livestock more closely, automate operations more easily, increase profitability and expand sustainable agriculture solutions such as hydroponics and aquaponics.

Startups are developing sensors and platforms to assist farmers in collecting data that helps monitor crop conditions and enhance productivity. Their sensor products use connectivity technologies such as LoRaWAN, Sigfox and low-power satellite communication to create interconnected farming ecosystems containing sensor devices capable of measuring temperature, pressure, flow level and water quality measurements, allowing farmers to monitor their farms remotely in real-time.

Agriculture startups use artificial intelligence (AI) to make informed decisions regarding farming practices. By analyzing big data from multiple sources and applying machine learning algorithms to their technology, agricultural startups are making faster and more accurate predictions than ever before.

RhizeBio, a US-based startup using metagenomics to examine soil microbiomes, employs this process to identify both the number and diversity of bacteria in the soil to ensure plants remain healthy and resilient. RhizeBio also offers farmers precise crop data, allowing them to increase harvest quality while increasing yield.

Regenerative agriculture is another agricultural innovation that emphasizes soil health and biodiversity. Regenerative farming helps reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously improving soil fertility and halting land degradation; methods include no-till or reduced-tillage tillage practices, cover cropping techniques, crop rotation systems and rotation crops.

India’s agricultural industry is integral to its economy, contributing approximately 50 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). To keep India’s agricultural industry competitive and provide better employment opportunities in rural India, supporting and encouraging rural development is paramount in reaching economic goals and meeting economic development objectives.

Rural India can become an international leader in agriculture and food production by employing innovative agricultural solutions that boost GDP growth while creating jobs in rural communities.

Boosting Rural India 

Agriculture accounts for 32% of India’s gross value added. Meanwhile, non-farm rural activity is growing much more quickly.

Due to increased access to credit through digital platforms and reduced transaction costs, more FPOs are being formed through emerging business models that facilitate FPO development by streamlining market data access and improving supply chain efficiency.

1. Aadhaar

Twelve years ago, over one billion Indians lined up to obtain Aadhaar cards – biometric identity numbers designed to document their identities and enable eligibility for government cash transfers such as rations or wage payments under MGNREGS programs – while also giving them dignity in asserting their rights.

Today, Aadhaar is integral to India’s financial system. As its digital identity enables banking services such as e-signature and KYC for opening bank accounts, and Unified Payment Interface (UPI) transactions have more than doubled since demonetisation.

Aadhaar allows real-time tracking and verification of service delivery and ensures benefits reach those entitled. For instance, if cloudy eyes prevent an elderly woman from being scanned using an Aadhaar, implementers find workarounds to ensure she receives aid as she should, resulting in an economy with less leakage and inefficiency. The case analyzes its origins, features, penetration and growth compared with similar identification systems across other nations.

2. FPOs

FPOs are among the most effective tools for improving farmer incomes and expanding non-farming rural industries. FPOs can assist farmers by increasing land holding sizes and access to technology and financing while simultaneously incentivizing rural industry development and creating jobs outside farming.

FPOs must be structured and managed differently for them to be effective; their success ultimately relies on support from nodal agencies and other organisations – for instance, if launched by state agriculture departments or CSR arms of private corporations, they might lack the experience or know-how necessary for running them successfully.

Organisers of an FPO must invest in their business model to aggregate, process, market and transport farmers’ produce efficiently and profitably. Furthermore, sufficient working capital must be secured. Relationships must be built with input suppliers, technical service providers, financial institutions and transporters to do this.

3. Digital Payments

Rural economies are emerging as beneficiaries of digital payments and the rise of technology, accessing new financial services. Both start-ups and incumbent players are taking advantage of it to accelerate rural economic development by speeding digital adoption rates and creating more inclusive financial ecosystems.

Jai Kisan, an agri-tech startup, uses voice messages and local languages to provide real-time information to farmers via WhatsApp groups. This leads to greater transparency, improved trading competitiveness, and reduced food waste.

Other initiatives are underway to expand digital payments in India’s rural economy, such as the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) mobile app, which integrates banking features and merchant payments on one platform; Paytm is offering consumers cheaper transaction costs, while non-bank financial companies (NBFCs) are using technology to bring credit solutions directly to rural economies – for instance e-commerce startup Meesho has joined hands with fintech company Klub in offering options for small, medium and large enterprises that sell on its platform.

4. Innovation

Innovation is at the centre of inclusive growth. Innovation ranges from improving existing processes or products to major breakthroughs transforming entire industries and ecosystems. Investors typically favour incremental innovations; new technologies with greater impacts require deeper market analysis and customer support.

Agriculture remains a primary contributor to India’s rural economy, accounting for one-quarter of GDP. Companies involved with procuring, processing or selling agricultural produce have increasingly integrated backwards into farm supply chains to maximize farmer realisations.

Technology has enabled new services like online marketplace models, mechanisation services and data-backed risk mitigation solutions designed to enhance farmers’ access to inputs, credit and markets. Government schemes like the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund and Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana provide debt financing that allows FPOs and agri-entrepreneurs to establish cold chains and primary processing facilities – leading to the emergence of digital agristacks.

Supreena

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