Dilip Rajan, Managing Director, East-West Seed, 0
Why is agritech so important to vegetable farming today? Estimates indicate that India would require around a 35% increase in vegetables' production over the next five years. This shortfall can be addressed by productivity augmentation driven by higher adoption of hybrid seeds in vegetable crops, innovation, and technology-based approaches. Vegetable farming offers better economic returns for smallholder farmers and enhances consumers' health and nutrition while reviving our stalled economy.
The pandemic has shown the immense value of digital tools and agriculture. The fact that systematic application of digital tools can support sustainable production & timely supply, especially when food production and supply involves millions of smallholder farmers, has been proven beyond doubt. Indian agricultural ecosystem has undoubtedly changed a lot since agritech startups started center stage working on solutions that focus on maximizing productivity, increasing supply chain efficiency, and improving market linkages.
According to reports, investments from venture capital firms in agritech startups are expected to exceed $500 million in the next two years. Their goal is to help farmers connect with buyers, automate supply chains, and build the next layer of data analytics to drive further supply chain efficiency.
B2B platforms are emerging as an essential disruptive practice in the agriculture industry focusing on supply chain efficiency. Startups like AgriBazaar, DeHaat, BigBasket, MeraKisan, Ninjacart, and many more have expanded their presence and operations to help with the last-mile delivery of seeds, fertilizers, inputs, and machinery.
Scalable interventions are on the anvil from startups in creating models using real-time information on the farm, farmer, and crop to enable access to farmers. Even more significant issues such as non-availability of labor or an
Agriculture sector in India has been crippled for a long time with many fundamental issues such as water shortage, lowquality seeds, poor soil quality, climate change, lack of market access, inadequate storage facilities, ill-equipped warehouses and low credit facilities. Agritech companies can play a significant role here by coming up with high-end technology-based solutions like Artificial Intelligence, remote sensing, data analytics, and various Internet of Thing (IoT) devices to address these issues.
According to reports, investments from venture capital firms in agritech startups are expected to exceed $500 million in the next two years. Their goal is to help farmers connect with buyers, automate supply chains, and build the next layer of data analytics to drive further supply chain efficiency
Agritech, combined with geographical location devices and remote sensing advancements, promises to change the way crops will be managed in the future. There is already significant work happening on satellites' use in capturing images and crop information across farmlands, feeding it back for analysis, and providing actionable intelligence to the farmers.
With innovation as its center, "Precision Agriculture" is fast taking center stage with the underlying theme of integration of information to create management knowledge as a means to address site-specific production goals.
Responsible companies support sustainable vegetable growing practices such as integrated pest management, cropping sequence methods to maximize productivity through improved agronomic practices such as drip irrigation, mulching, staking, and net-house phyto-sanitation, plant health, and alternative crops.
Technology and innovation will be essential to agricultural productivity and stability; however, the key will be to train the smallholder farmers by sharing the knowledge and skills to improve their productivity. This can be done by implementing practical training sessions and support field demonstrations highlighting profitable and sustainable production practices.
By offering smallholder farmers quality vegetable seeds combined with knowledge, training, and technology to grow and harvest them correctly, we can make more varieties of more nutritious food available to more people than ever before. This will contribute to better economic returns for the farmer, better food for the consumer, and put us on the path of ensuring food security for the future.