The Indian Government has signed MoUs with five companies, including Microsoft India Pvt Ltd, Amazon Web Services, Star AgriBazaar, and Patanjali Organic Research Institute, to generate proof of concept (PoC) or evidence that a pilot project is achievable for developing a digital ecosystem for agribusiness in India.
The Centre had invited these companies to construct PoC based on the integrated farm database, said Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
The PoCs will aid in the understanding of solutions that can be constructed using data that is already available. Some of them will be scaled up at the national level if they are proved to be helpful to farmers.
‘There is no link between the MoUs and the IDEA (India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture) consultation document, which solicited input from a variety of stakeholders across the country,’ he said.
Big plans are in the works
According to Tomar, the Centre had also released a request for proposals for the MoUs on its website, and these companies will labour pro-free for a year.
The government has signed an MoU with Microsoft India Pvt Ltd to consolidate the Agriculture ecosystem across the value chain (farm-to-fork) and empower farmers through data analytics.
ESRI India Technologies Ltd and the National Agriculture Geo Hub have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment and launch of the ‘Nation Agriculture Geo Hub.’ Amazon Web Services (AWS) and India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for digital services throughout the agri-value chain and the establishment of a digital agricultural innovation ecosystem.
The agreement with Star Agribazaar Technology Pvt. Ltd. calls for the company to partner with the Agriculture Department on a pilot project to promote digital agriculture in three states in the country. ‘Patanjali Organic Research Institute Pvt Ltd has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide farm management and farmers service in three districts,’ the minister stated.
Currently, the federated farmers’ database is being constructed by combining publicly available data from several government data silos with digitized land records.
‘No private data of farmers is shared with any private organization,’ he added, adding that the Agriculture Department is working on a data policy for the agriculture sector in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. ‘Once the services have been designed and implemented, they will be available to all farmers across the country,’ he stated.
Tomas emphasized that private sector enterprises are not participating in the construction of the Agristack, just as they were not involved in the construction of the Agristack.
He stated that work on developing Agristack in the country has begun and that the department is working on finalizing IDEA (India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture), which will serve as a foundation for Agristack. As a result, a task group has been formed, and a concept paper on IDEA has been created, with input from topic specialists, farmers, farmer producer organizations (FPOs), and the general public sought.
Once completed, this can be used as a platform for developing creative agri-focused solutions that leverage technology to help farmers earn more money and increase farm efficiency and the efficiency of the country’s agriculture industry, with the overall goal of doubling farmers’ incomes. He added the Agristack’s core would be the federated farmers’ database, which is now being constructed by the agricultural department.
Protests by farmers
In response to another question about the government’s loss as a result of farmer protests, the Minister stated that agitation caused public discomfort due to road blockades and other agitation activities. In addition, the deployment of police troops for law and order purposes costs the government money.
According to him, the application of farm laws would have resulted in increased farmer income and increased village investment due to investments in post-harvest management infrastructure, transportation, value addition, and storage facilities, among other things. However, he said that the loss could not be calculated because of the aforementioned and other activities.
To tackle the concerns, the administration has been in active dialogue with the farmers’ unions. To date, 11 rounds of negotiation talks between the center and the protesting farmers’ unions have been held to settle the issues.
Throughout the many rounds of conversations, the government repeatedly asked the farmers’ unions to debate the provisions of the farm laws, so that if there were any objections, progress might be made toward resolution. Farmers’ unions, he claimed, merely wanted the farm laws repealed.