Digital Agriculture

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    • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers welfare has signed 5 MOUs with private companies for taking forward Digital Agriculture.
      • MOUs aimed at increasing farmers’ income and protecting their produce.

    What is Digital Agriculture?

    • A Digital agriculture mission has been initiated for 2021 -2025 by the government for projects based on new technologies.
      • The new technologies which will be harnessed are AI, block chain, remote sensing and GIS technology, use of drones and robots etc. 
    • To transform the Agriculture sector, attempts need to imbibe an ecosystem thinking and a digital ecosystem
    • The Agriculture value chain extends from crop selection to crop management and the market
      • It involves public and private players in agricultural inputs and services and also logistics. 
    • Establishing a digital ecosystem of agriculture needs to take a long-term view of multiple aspects like 
      • Interoperability, 
      • Data governance, 
      • Data quality, 
      • Data standards, 
      • Security and privacy, and 
      • Promoting innovation. 
    • A significant requirement is adoption of a decentralized, federated architecture.
      • This architecture must 
        • Assure autonomy to the service providers and all other actors and 
        • Ensure interoperability at the same time.

    Steps to implement the Digital Agriculture

    • Recognizing the importance of Digitization in Agriculture the Department is creating a federated Farmers Database.
    • Different Services will be built around this Database so as to develop an organic Digital Ecosystems of Agriculture
    • Federated farmers’ databases will be linked by the land records of farmers from across the country
      • It will create a unique Farmer ID
    • This unified database can serve as the repository of the information of all benefits and supports of various schemes of the Central & State Government.
      • It can be the source for accessing information for providing benefits to farmers in the future.
    • So far, the database is ready with details of around 5.5 crore farmers.

    How will these Pilot Projects Benefit the Farmers?

    • Informed Decisions:
      • These pilot projects will enable farmers to make informed decisions on various issues like:
        • what crop to grow, 
        • what variety of seed to use and 
        • what best practises to adopt to maximise the yield. 
    • Planning of Procurement and Logistics:
      • The agriculture supply chain players can plan their procurement and logistics on precise and timely information. 
    • Fetch Best Prices for Farmers:
      • Farmers can take informed decisions about whether to sell or store their produce and when and where and what price to sell.

    Conclusion and Way Forward

    • The digital revolution is touching every sphere of life and hence it is high time to bring agriculture in its ambit.
    • The MoUs to rope in the private sector can help in 
      • quicker modernisation of Farms,
      • easier access to various schemes and 
      • subject matter knowledge.
    • Such practices must be studied in depth via pilot projects and extended to whole India if found successful.

    Other Schemes for Farmers

    National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGPA):

    • It was initially launched in seven selected States in the last quarter of 2010-11.
      • This Scheme has subsequently been extended to the 2nd Phase to cover all the States and 2 UTs from 2014-15. 
    • Aim:
      • To achieve rapid development in India through use of Information & Communication Technology (ICT).
      • It will provide timely access to agriculture related information for the farmers.
    • The possible components for modern management of agriculture are 
      • Remote Sensing
      • Geographical Information System
      • Data Analytics
      • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning and 
      • Internet of Things.
    • Under this initiative, one Stop Window-Farmers Portal (www.farmer.gov.in) has been developed for dissemination of information like.
      • seeds variety, 
      • Storage Godown, 
      • Pests and plant diseases, 
      • Best Agricultural Practices, 
      • Watershed, 
      • Mandi details etc.
    • SMS/mKisan Portal (www.mkisan.gov.in) has also been developed.
      • It will send advisories on various crop related matters to the registered farmers through SMSs.
      • In mkisan. more than 5 crores farmers are registered for receiving crop advisories through SMS.
    • Various mobile applications including KisanSuvidha have also been developed.
      • They facilitate dissemination of information to farmers on the critical parameters viz., 
        • Weather, Market Prices, 
        • Plant Protection, 
        • Agro-advisory, 
        • Extreme Weather Alerts, 
        • Input Dealers ( of Seed, Pesticide, Fertilizer, Farm Machinery),
        • Soil Health Card, 
        • Cold Storage & Godowns, 
        • Veterinary Centre & Diagnostic labs, 
        • Crop Insurance Premium Calculator 
      • This app launched in 2016, has more than 13 lakh downloads.

    Strengthening/Promoting Agricultural Information System (AGRISNET):

    • It is the scheme for strengthening the IT infrastructure of the Department and its offices. 
    • Fund allocated under the scheme is also utilized for making payment to the vendor for sending SMS through mkisan portal.

    Source: PIB