- 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 it.
- GS-3: Agriculture
Data Revolution in Indian agriculture
Context: Recently, a document on “Indian Agriculture: Ripe for Disruption” was released by a private organisation Bain and Company.
Key Takeaways of the report
- The Bain report is a data-based prediction on agri-business scenarios
- It includes targeting the production of alternative proteins, and food cell-based food/ingredients and initiating ocean farming, etc.
- The agriculture sector (currently worth $370 billion), is estimated to receive an additional $35 billion investment.
- The two enabling conditions for such investment opportunities are
- Changes in the regulatory framework, especially recent changes in the Farm Acts
- Digital disruption through government initiative of IDEA – ‘India Digital Ecosystem for Agriculture’.
- The Indian agriculture sector in future will encompass farm to fork and pave the way for a single national market with a national platform with better connection between producer and consumers.
- The report has convincingly demonstrated the business opportunity available in supply chains between farm to Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandi and mandi to the customer, which can be realised with the support of digital disruption and the latest agriculture reforms.
- The report argues that benefiting from the huge investments into the agri-ecosystem, doubling farmers’ income targets can be achieved in near future.
Concerns or Challenges
- The IT industry has opposition to IDEA mainly due to the ethics of creating a Unique Farmer ID based on one’s Aadhaar number and also the potential for data misuse.
- There is a general assumption that more investments into the agriculture sector will benefit farmers; ‘but how’ has not been convincingly answered in the report.
- Majority of small and marginal farmers are under-educated and not technology-savvy. However, capacity building of farmers is ignored amidst these ambitious developments.
- Protest of farmers against the reforms can act as a barrier or risk factor resulting in a repealing of these new farm laws.
- While agreeing on the fact that a data revolution is inevitable in the agriculture sector, given its socio-political complexities, we cannot just count on technology fixes and agri-business investments for improving farmers’ livelihoods.
- There need to be immense efforts to improve the capacities of the farmers, by establishing support systems, through FPOs and other farmers associations.
- Considering the size of the agriculture sector of the country this is not going to be an easy task but would need a separate programme across the country with considerable investment.
Connecting the dots: