Agriculture and allied sectors in India have been increasingly leveraging information and communication technology (ICT) to transform and improve production and productivity, to address the challenge of feeding the country's teeming millions, the National Association of Software Service Companies (Nasscom), said today.
Increased use of ICT is key to India achieving its real potential in agricultural productivity and raising farm production to feed an additional 310 million people expected by 2030, Nasscom quoted from a joint study by Media Lab Asia's Information Technology Research Academy (ITRA) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
Nasscom said the ITRA-ICAR Strategy Formulation Meeting - IT in Agriculture and Food - held in March aimed at understanding IT usage landscape and identify future areas of applications in the rural and agricultural context.
With rapid improvements in platforms and service delivery, the ICT industry has been emerging as a key platform for service delivery and as a panacea for various problems across sectors, including agriculture and allied sectors.
The adoption of mobile internet technology is set to accelerate in rural areas due to a combination of affordable mobile / smart phones, optic fibre backbone and local language content, the study noted.
Of the total rural telecom subscribers of over 338 million, nearly 98 per cent are mobile subscribers, making mobile platform the key engagement tool and the primary service delivery platform.
Additionally, the expansion of community service centres and Krishi Vigyan Kendras across villages is ensuring the reach of relevant information and learnings to the rural population, it noted.
ICT has the potential to emerge as the key influencer across the value chain, through education, R&D, productivity, to extension services. It can help mobilise science and technology by linking agricultural specialists to virtual communities and accelerating agricultural research exchanges among different entities.
ICT can bring direct contribution to productivity, empower farmers to make informed and quality decisions, and help develop policies that will have positive impacts on the rural economy and livelihood. It can significantly promote economic conditions of agricultural producers, facilitate community development, drastically improve research and educational development activities, help develop small and medium enterprises, and promote development of media networks.
Key ICT benefit areas:
- Precision farming
- Agricultural extension
- Agricultural marketing
- Livestock and fisheries
- Climate and environment readiness
IT management systems, including tracking, genetic resource management, automated feeding / milking systems, database and information systems can be used to track and analyse feeding patterns and milk production, logistics and supply chain management, storage systems, market intelligence systems, etc.
With the mobile phone rapidly emerging as the most ideal service delivery platform, everything from genetic resource management to supply chain management can be handled through ICT.
The use of IT in agricultural education can improve the quality of agricultural graduates and enhance their conceptual, research and practical skills, and thus enable innovative solutions to new problems. It can also be used in extension services to disseminate best practices.
Besides, ICT can be effectively used in data warehousing, data mining, decision support systems, data science, modelling and simulation, embedded systems, wireless sensor networks, GIS / GPS, cloud-sourcing systems etc.