AgriTech value-chain mapping of IT/IOT Technologies can unleash a truck-load of benefits to the entire farming ecosystem. Today, I am not going to talk about the reasons why it has not happening or the ways of (non)working of Agri-system in Indian context, which has apparently put itself in an elongated tailspin for more than half-century, but lets talk about the right solution architecture needed for the farming-technology-eco-system based on current maturity of IT & IOT technologies to map the entire value chain for building ‘Farming-As-An-Enterprise’ & therefore an Industry.
Also, in the recent times, last couple of years, there has been increasing level of discussions about the technology for agriculture in snippets here and there with insignificant chunks & bytes of technology usage compared to the real value of the economy embedded within this sector itself. For instance Precision Farming is all hyped up. It’s all good but it’s just a fraction of entire value chain may be around 1% on the overall value map. A lot has been talked than actually being done at the required right levels of decision making for solution design and architecting of IT / IOT required for the scale of Indian Agriculture Economy. No doubt ‘Doubling Farmers Income initiative by the current regime’ has its fundamental premise in this fact that there is much more possible than just doubling, given the facts of per-capita income and per-hector yield for India is in the bottom half of the list compared to the rest of the world and lower than some of the less powerful economies.
One of the most important enabler today for increasing farmer’s income is - IT & IOT Technology, if indeed this initiative has to be brought into reality and fruictition before even 2022. When we look at the successful sectors and their IT Budgets, it’s not difficult to get a clue – how these sectors have leveraged IT & IOT and their spend on the same. For a matured enterprise, with stable IT operations, on an average about 7% of the annual budget is typically allocated for IT /IOT Technologies. And in the first 3 years it’s much higher to get that ‘domino effect’. Then why not in Agri-Sector, where it’s (IT & IOT) the most important change agent for turning around the situation? Its is an irony that the GOVT of INDIA is the single largest entity to decide for both sides: spend and procurement plus it has policy as the tool to bring this effect into reality. But again, IT & IOT has remained alien on the policy documents so where is the question of implementing it in the larger context of policy framework? And once again the excellent initiative is negated for the want of broad-spectrum inclusion of IT, IOT for AgriTech at the policy level. Reference is made here to the policy of Doubling Farmer’s income.
[Ref -1:DOCPLAN-MARCH-APRIL 2016: Almost completely silent about technology, IT & IOT
[Ref-2: Niti Aayog Policy Paper No 1/2017: Has one small paragraph with a mere mention of precision farming hidden towards the end in Cl. No 4.2 in this 40 page policy document.
However, so many people have already taken a lot of trouble for bringing up the IT/IOT on stage for the Agriculture sector, let’s recognize the contribution made by one and all in this space and lets not push it in yet another criticism and get cynical about it, rather let’s get supportive to contribute, recommend & advise the right course correction needed. Even if it means advising the Govt and NITI Aayog for right things with our 2 cents of experience.
AgriTech inclusion will truly happen when such advice and contribution will reach to the right levels for implementing through the Policy Framework with proper allocation of resources / budget and a clear strategy at the highest level. Once its initiated from the top, rest will happen by its own virtue, because the larger-set of grass-roots workers (like me) wants this to happen. Really.
This is not just another attempt of hollow policy advocacy, but thoughts steaming out of the sincere efforts put together over last few years by the like-minded folks for implementation of IOT and IT Technologies in the mainstream Indian Farming Sector, which has resulted in some good fruits and some pains. Pains that are largely due to the hurdles faces for ‘scaling up’ & ‘Commercialization’ of technology for its profitable deployment in Agri-Sector.
Some of these sincere & successful efforts made by many within the value chain of Agri-Sector for deployment of technology will be manifested on August 10th & 11th – just right on the week of Independence Day! At The Indian Technology Congress -2017 http://techcongress.net/industry4.0/message.html This 2 Days Conference cum workshop & exhibits of Agri-Technologies as in IT & IOT is the culmination of effort taken towards building the AgriTECH Value Chain Mapping & trying to be as comprehensive as possible with the sole aim to make ‘Farming-As-An-Enterprise’ successful by leveraging technology. Be it Input Side Supply Chain, Cultivation & Farm Operations Domain, Post Harvesting & Out Put Side Supply Chain as well as consumption side requirements. All of this has been value mapped with overlay of IT & IOT Technologies that are proven to be effective and beneficial.
A solution architecture for the farming-technology-eco-system has to be thought through right from the beginning of value chain that is :
- Adequate Resources Support: SMART Water Management, Soil Mapping Database, Environment Analytics & History.
- Farming ‘Decision Support Systems’: Good land, Kharab Land and many more aspects. Combined with above and other ‘predictive analysis’ for market forces impacting the crop-cultivation today and also at the time of harvesting as well as postharvest to realize the sales of farm goods.
- Input-Side Supply chain of all Farm Needs : Fertilizers, Seeds, Equipment, Tools & Others.
- Cultivation Practices and Decision Control System for Farmer on his mobile phone. Supported by Mobile enabled cloud analytics, predictive tools and recommendation assisted by local experts. With real time communication systems + infrastructure availability, even for the remotest of farms.
- Labor productivity tools for ease and effort saving using IOT based Mechanization & Connected systems – as in Industry 4.0 or Agriculture 4.0. For various farming activities from sowing to farm gate.
- Enterprise IT & IOT Management Support and Assisted Systems like Drones, Accounting & ERP etc.
Thus, the solution blueprint of Agri-TECH Value chain is being done at top most level. Each of these above sections of IT/IOT mapping on value chain are loaded subjects which will have its own smaller systems and components to be managed separately. Therefore, the next level of Architecting and individual solutions are to be built and supported to achieve the eco-system level benefits. Building the applications that are SMART and Relevant in today’s business context to provide the desired returns of technology implementations.
Moreover, farming is such a complex system that something goes wrong somewhere in the chain and its broken making the value delivered to NOTHING. We all cry about it, but now can we get our act together and set it right to address it wherever it’s broken (or for that matter ‘fragmented’ for choice of word J if you like).
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