Digital agriculture, still a nascent field, offers great potential not just for agribusinesses but also for agriculturists by offering information in real time on the mobile and creating an online ecosystem for the farming community
Global population is estimated to increase by 2 billion reaching 9.6 billion mark by 2050. To feed such a monstrous figure, food production needs to be increased by 70% and this has to be achieved in spite of the limited availability of arable lands, the increasing need for fresh water, since agriculture consumes 70 per cent of the world’s fresh water supply and other less predictable factors, such as the impact of climate change, which, according a recent report by the UN could lead, among other things, to changes to seasonal events in the life cycle of plant and animals.
Accelerating the growth of agriculture production is therefore necessary not only to meet the rising demand for food and maintain food security, Sustainability and Ecological balance, but also to increase incomes of those dependent on agriculture to ensure inclusiveness. In the recent past, multiple factors have worked together to facilitate growth in the agriculture sector in India. These include growth in household income and consumption, expansion in the food processing sector and increase in agricultural exports. Rising private participation in Indian agriculture, growing organic farming and using information technology are some of the key trends of advancement in the agriculture industry.
New concepts, theories and innovations have substituted traditional methods and practices of framing. One of them is the introduction of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), which enables the dissemination of requisite information at the right time. This revolution in information technology has made access to information easy and cost-effective. The activities of generating, processing, transmitting, disseminating, sorting, archiving and retrieving information constitute the information industry.
ICT can help increase the quality and quantity of agricultural production by using sensing technology to make farms more “intelligent” and more connected involving the so-called “precision agriculture”, also known as ‘smart farming’.
Growing more with less is going to be the guiding principle for sustainable agriculture in coming future, which is where start-ups like CropIn fit in.
Established in 2010, the Bengaluru based company provides a cloud and mobile based app designed to simplify complex farm challenges and equip large or small agribusiness & farmers with decision-making tools for data-driven farm management.
A low cost product, it makes every farm visible on-line, helps every farmer adopt the best global agricultural practices and makes every crop traceable so that harvested crops meet global & local quality standards and thus become market worthy. This technology impacts the livelihood of farmers at bottom of pyramid by generating more productivity out of the same farm.
With precision agriculture expected to play a major role in the coming years, the creation of an online farming eco-system will play a vital role in boosting agriculture economy.
“Our solution helps gathering real-time data from these farms and adds up capabilities to connect the farms with agri-ecosystem- like banks, insurance, buyers, input companies & consultants-in real time, which will provide assistance to farmers seeking their help,” informs Krishna Kumar, co-founder & CEO, CropIn. CropIn’s other two co-founders include Kunal Prasad, who’s the COO and Chittaranjan Jena, the company’s CTO.
“The main difficulty in implementation of such a system in countries like India is that the farming plots are very small. An average farming land is just 0.5-5 acres in size. We are integrating key technologies to root out these kind of hurdles that are hindering implementation of technology at the basic level of the eco system,” adds Prasad.
The company claims that its products have helped revenues and profits of its clients – which include McCain, Mahindra, McDonald Suppliers and Mangalore Chemicals & Fertilizers among others – by 20 and 30 per cent respectively, through better produce quantity and quality, farmer retention, marketability, compliance & sustainability and tackle unforeseen circumstances through a zero crop-loss approach.