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How To Bridge The Tech Gap For Farmers

Advancements can be as simple as water management which is a key factor in farming with AI and IoT based technologies that are available in the market to monitor water levels, non-urea based fertilizers etc.

The weather change and disruption in the seasonal rainfall have affected the farmers and agricultural community a lot. Extreme heatwaves have scorched crops through long periods and wildfires, while the shift in the migration route of different birds and insects have harmed the crop yield over the past few years. Technology and information collected with big data can help the agricultural community become more resilient and embrace the challenges of nature to yield better crops. However, the biggest challenge is that the advances of technology and modern pieces of equipment are not accessible enough for the farming community.

To help bridge the gap between technology and the farming community that can benefit from the modern adversaries of farming, we need to address a few barriers.

The evolution in technology and machinery should be simple.

Farmers spend all day in the fields and are busy working on their farmland, doing what they know best to ensure a good crop yield. If the market offers them a variety of machines that help simplify the same task, it intimidates them instead of encouraging them to take the step to upgrade and learn the functionalities of new machinery. For agricultural users, having too many options can be overwhelming and disjointed. They do not have the luxury to research and understand technological insights and studies to know which machine best serve their purpose. Advancements can be as simple as water management which is a key factor in farming with AI and IoT based technologies that are available in the market to monitor water levels, non-urea based fertilizers etc.

Reports state that the market for artificial intelligence in agriculture can grow to 11.2 billion by 2030. However, companies need to refocus on building technology that can be used by the farmer, with a clear explanation of how each machine can help advance a farmers farming process.

Improve connectivity in rural areas

When it comes to connectivity in rural areas, India is still building the infrastructure. Without access to the internet, the farming community does not get the guidance it needs about how technology and modern machinery can help them. The disconnectivity further makes the concept of using new machinery and the assistance of modern technology to predict how to yield a better crop more alien for the farming community. Longer distances also affect the perishable goods like fruits and vegetables during transportation. For these situations, the concepts like solar portable cold storages need to be introduced as a basic appliance for use. The government needs to redefine “rural infrastructure” to include connectivity to power grids and access to the internet for the rural parts of the country.

Make technology affordable.

Most farmers in India are under a large amount of debt because of the loans they take in the hopes of yielding a successful crop. New equipment and technology come at an additional price, making it a financial risk most farmers would not consider. A major transformation in rural areas for farming can be brought only by the use of self-sustaining renewable energy infrastructure and products. Another alternative is to fund and give certain liberties to agri-tech companies that encourage them to assist the farming community by granting them access to the machinery at nominal costs.

The farming community needs to upskill their knowledge.

For years the farming community has worked in a certain way, using specific techniques and following seasonal changes to decide when to sow their crops and work their fields. While the rest of the country moved with the evolution of technology, the remote location of most of the farming community kept them away from the technological progress made. Government should encourage and lay down roadmaps for the farming community to upskill themselves, in practices like low-cost organic farming and adoption of industry innovation.

It is essential to consider the drawbacks the farming community faces in India. The technology built to help the farming community needs to be designed around their skill set and capabilities. Only then will the farming community accept and transition to using modern machinery for their farming needs.

Source: Business World

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