Small-hold farmers, at large, are a neglected community in India as farming remains an unreliable sector. Especially so in today’s world where farmers have to battle climate change in the face of depleting natural resources. The agricultural sector needs technology disruption to boost productivity and adopt climate resilient farming for a sustainable tomorrow. Given the rudimentary nature of agriculture, technology has been slow in permeating to the grassroots level. Addressing this issue, government is taking rapid steps towards harnessing technology to enable digital transformation of the farming sector.
One such project has been initiated by the Department of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, in partnership with Bengaluru based Agtech start up, CropIn Technology Solutions. With an aim to help farmers create more value for their crops and foster their socio-economic development, the project spans across 20 districts of Karnataka. It will facilitate FPOs and farm managers to advise farmers in following the right package of practices across crops such as paddy, millets, gram and groundnut. This joint initiative will soon be scaled up to assist 4.15 lakh farmers and cover over 3.4 lakh acres of land.
Even though Karnataka is home to the highest number of Agtech start ups in India, the agriculture sector's contribution to the state's GDP has been declining with each passing year. This can be attributed to harsh weather conditions and seasons of drought witnessed in parts of Karnataka over the past five years. As part of the mutual initiative, government will leverage CropIn's farm management technology solutions to help farmers grow the right crops and adopt smart-farming techniques and practices, during the crop cycle. Instead of just focusing on increasing per acre yield quantity, the government hopes to help farmers get optimal value for their yield - a measure to ensure the economic wellbeing of farmers.
Besides setting up a clear farm management system in place, the solution will leverage Machine Learning and AI to help FPOs get insightful data points for making the right decisions and guiding farmers. In the larger picture, the tools provided as part of this solution will help farmer organizations to bring consistency, dependability and sustainability to agriculture. This initiative by the government of Karnataka can be viewed as a step towards a better future for farmers in the state.
"As an Indian Agtech startup, we feel a deep responsibility towards the wellbeing of the farmer community. This collaboration with Karnataka government gives us an opportunity to educate, enable and empower farmers. They are often at the losing end due to lack of transparency and information in the agricultural market. We hope to change this and bring about change at the grassroots level by working with the Department of Agriculture," said, Krishna Kumar, CEO, CropIn.
In a similar outreach, CropIn had previously collaborated with the Department of Horticulture (DOH), Andhra Pradesh, in 2017 to digitize farms under two Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO) in the districts of Chittoor and Krishna. Through this partnership, the DOH set out to build a platform for collaboration, increase the productivity of farmers and facilitate right market access for the farm produce. The underlying mission is to work towards doubling farming income by 2022, in line with the Government of India's vision for the agri-sector. In its first stage, the project covers over 210 acres of land, assisting 520 farmers. After a successful run with two FPOs during the first year, the collaboration is now being scaled up to cover 50 FPOs.