Gartner‘s principal analyst Apeksha Kaushik, ‘technology adoption in India is still in its nascent stages.’ ‘Limited availability of technology infrastructure, as well as recurring natural phenomena such as floods and droughts, have all worked against the deployment of digital solutions,’ she explained.
Anxiety about data privacy could be another issue. Abhimanyu Kohar, a 27-year-old farmers’ leader who has been supporting the protesting farmers, described the situation as a ‘serious issue.’ ‘We are all aware of the government’s track record in terms of data security,’ he said. Despite the challenges, a few one-year pro bono pilot programs are already in the works.
Microsoft has chosen 100 villages in which to deploy AI and machine learning and create a platform. Amazon, which has already begun serving farmers with real-time consultency and information via a mobile app, is now offering cloud services to solution providers. Representatives from Microsoft and Amazon India did not respond to requests for statements.
Amit Mundawala, the co-founder of Star Agribazaar, calls the project Amazon, Microsoft, and Cisco lining up to collect data from India’s farmers a ‘game-changer.’ It will collect data on Agri land profiling, crop estimation, soil degradation, and weather patterns. According to Managing Director Agendra Kumar, Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) India is using geographic information systems to generate data and develop applications.
P.K. Joshi, former South Asia director at the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute, expressed that ‘Once we have the collected data, we can correlate it with on-the-ground reality and improve the forecast, make quick and informed decisions, and predict which regions require policy intervention,’
As per the state’s additional chief secretary, Shri Rajeev Chawla, ‘a similar data-driven system implemented in the southern state of Karnataka last year helped enhancing the efficiency in delivering government benefits to the farmers.’
In addition to his statement, some bank loans have been made to farmers using the centralized data, and all government programs, insurance, loan verification, and minimum support prices (MSP) are being routed through the technique, plugging leaks and eliminating fraud.
Aside from the tech behemoths, many smaller companies and startups are expected to participate in the program. As per the government’s digital agriculture consultation paper, when completed, the project will form the foundation of a national digital agriculture ecosystem that will assist farmers in increasing their profitability. With access to the right information at the right time, as well as to facilitate better policy planning and execution.
‘It continues to remain to be seen whether this exercise will be translated into action or lead to higher production and agriculture income,’ Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at Care Ratings Ltd, said.