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IoT, AI and the Blockchain: India can Help its Farmers by Leveraging Modern Technology

As the globe embraces ever more the implementation of emerging technologies (ET) in an attempt to both streamline and revive flagging sectors of their economies, technology firms are looking into how ET can be implemented in India after the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a doubling of farmer’s income.

The well-known problems of India’s farm-sector growth include low productivity, fragmented landholding, frequent cycles of both over and under production of goods, less than ideal agricultural practices and a lack of progress concerning farm marketing. While these restrictive forces are neither new or unknown, the persistence of such problems has prompted the discussion of ET intervention where traditional policy has faltered.

Technology giants such as Microsoft, Cisco and IBM have commenced pilot projects spanning India’s agriculture chain. Microsoft has experimented with an AI sowing app in Andhra Pradesh that recommends sowing date, land preparation, manure application, seed treatment, sowing depth and fertilisation advice to farmers, which has increased yield in the test regions by an average of 30%. Furthermore, in a collaboration with United Phosphorus, Microsoft is developing an application designed to assess pest risk that also leverages ET mainstays such as AI and machine learning.

Agritech firms have begun to embrace commercial drones using IBM Watson’s Internet of Things (IoT) visual recognition APIs in order to obtain real time analysis of crop metrics across vast distances.

Cisco has partnered with Kerala State IT Mission in order to develop the Agri-Digital Infrastructure Plaform, which uses a combination of IoT sensors, databases and satellite images to produce real-time data on soil content, weather conditions, moisture and other pertinent factors in order to provide farmers and producers with real-time updates in order to maximise their crop’s efficiency and yield.

The implementation of ET in India’s agricultural sector has shown vast promise even on such a small scale, and technology companies are keen to scale-up the adoption as much as possible in the country. Government adoption of these technologies in the form of policy reform is vital, and if the roadmap ahead is both carefully considered and widely adopted, the increase of food production in one of the most populous countries on the planet would be of great benefit.

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