Source: The Hindu Business Line, Oct 08, 2020
New Delhi: The government will soon create a common data infrastructure of all farmers in the country, gleaning data collected for various schemes such as PM Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), PM-Kisan and soil health cards, and integrating them with land records, said Ashish Bhutani, Joint Secretary at the Agriculture Ministry, on Thursday.
“This will act as a one-stop shop for data, including access to finance by farmers, start-ups and researchers for developing new apps, so that the benefits reach the grass roots,” Bhutani said while addressing a webinar on artificial intelligence (AI) and digital applications in agriculture organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), jointly with the German Agribusiness Alliance.
‘AI for farmers’
According to Bhutani, developing standards for sharing and improving the quality of data will be monitored closely by the government. “The government is working to provide an enabling environment where private players and the government can work together to bring the benefit of AI to all farmers and consumers. This will also help in bringing down the price for the consumers as well as getting the best price for the farmers,” he said. This common database is expected to be ready by 2022, he added.
He said AI can play a major role in ensuring the targets set for doubling income of farmers, most of whom have very small holding sizes, averaging around one hectare per holder.
Since its launch, PMFBY has been a radical shift in the way crop insurance is implemented in the country. It is the third-biggest programme in the world after the schemes implemented in the US and China, he said. “Technology is the way forward for the implementation of the programme,” said Bhutani, who is also the CEO of PMFBY.
“The entire focus has shifted to using technology for managing food security and other aspects of agriculture. AI can be effectively used in soil monitoring, predictive data analytics and improving supply chain inefficiencies. The National e-Governance project on agriculture, which has been revisited this year, has given focus on using information technology, AI, Machine Learning, etc.”
Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Agriculture Production Commissioner and Principal Secretary of Tamil Nadu government, said the State was one of the first in the country to adopt AI and implement it in farmer welfare programmes. “The impact and utility of digitisation and AI are, perhaps, more beneficial in the agriculture sector than any other sector. Young farmers are taking to digitisation in a big way,” he added.
Rajesh Raghavan, MD & Country Manager-India, Husqvarna India Pvt Ltd, said AI is a game-changer to the agrarian community and can play a pivotal role in both the demand and supply aspects of agriculture. AI and allied digital applications can contribute to sustainable precision farming — from crop selection to crop monitoring — thereby improving the profitability of the farming community, he added. A report on use of AI in agriculture prepared by FICCI and PwC, released on the occasion, estimated the global market for AI in agriculture at $0.85 billion in 2019; this is projected to touch $8.4 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 24.8 per cent.