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IDEA – ‘India Digital Ecosystem for Agriculture’.

  • IASbaba
  • September 17, 2021
  • 0
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ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • GS-3: Agriculture

IDEA – ‘India Digital Ecosystem for Agriculture’.

Context: Recently, Government has launched an initiative called  India Digital Ecosystem for Agriculture (IDEA) that would place the farmer in the centre of the agriculture ecosystem leveraging open digital technologies

Key Features of IDEA

  • It will incorporate a National Farmers Database, a sort of ‘super Aadhaar’ for farmers.
  • The database will include farmers’ digitised land records, and cross-linked with the Aadhaar database so as to create a unique FID, or a farmers’ ID.
    • More than 8.5 crore farmers’ data having been incorporated into the national database by Sep 2021.
  • On top of that, it will pull information from running schemes like the PM Kisan, soil health cards, the national crop insurance scheme PM Fasal Bima Yojna, and so on. 
  • The database is being built by Microsoft under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare (DoAFW)
  • This database will enable anyone with access to it to 
    • uniquely identify a landholder
    • know the extent of his holding 
    • the state of the soil
    • cropping patterns and average yields 
    • and other such information at a granular level.

What is the larger objective of IDEA?

  • Agri-Stack: The creation of the FID is only one part of the grand IDEA. The plan is to create the agriculture equivalent of the ‘India Stack’ — a set of APIs (Application Programming Interface). These apps enables stakeholders to offer proactive and personalised services to farmers and improve the efficiency of the agriculture sector.
  • Innovation through Collaborations: This Agricultural India Stack will allow governments, businesses, start-ups and developers to utilise an unique digital Infrastructure to solve India’s hard problems towards presence-less, paperless, and cashless service delivery.
  • Governance Delivery: The FID — would enable ‘single sign-on’ for access to all government services offered to farmers.
  • Evidence based policy making: Such database for the agriculture sector, enables authorities to deliver seamless credit and insurance services, information related to seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, market information and price forecasts etc, driven by big data and analytics and powered by information technology.
  • The ‘agristack’, the government is hoping, will help eventually achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income.

Challenges

  • India has more than 14 crore working farms making the digitisation process challenging.
  • India’s land records in general and rural, agricultural land records in particular, are complex & not having common standards.
  • Nearly about 12% of agricultural households operated on leased land — in other words, they are tenant farmers. However, there is no legal recognition of land tenancy agreements in India, with most such agreements tending to be informal and verbal in nature. In such case, FID will exclude these farmers from receiving benefits, as they won’t figure in database at all.
  • Then there is problem of women farmers as vast majority of land titles continue to be held by men. 
  • There is a concern that the agristack is the precursor to a complete privatisation of government services extended to agriculture. 
  • There is also the big concern over data privacy. Giving away this kind of sensitive, financial and landholding information in the absence of a data privacy law raises multiple concerns over potential misuse. 

Connecting the dots:

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