The impact of the raging COVID-19 pandemic has been felt all across the globe. It has impacted every business across industries and slowed economic growth tremendously. Its influence can be seen throughout the Indian industrial sectors due to the lockdown imposed across the nation to limit the spread of the virus.
The agricultural sector seems to be the silver lining that had a 5.9% growth in January to March quarters, even in the COVID-19 crisis, while only 3.1% of growth was observed in the Indian economy. The prediction by Crisil notes agriculture will have increased 2.5% growth while GDP may display negative growth.
Technological agricultural systems are the need of the hour which will bolster the growing agricultural sector. A free android app developed by the Indian government, Kisan Suvidha, now has about 100 million registered users. This app assists farmers with relevant information on the weather of the current day and next five days, market prices, dealers, agro advisories, and plant protection. It also has extreme weather alerts and market prices of the commodity in the nearest area and the maximum price in the state, as well as India. While Bhuvan, an Indian Geo-platform of ISRO, employs geospatial spatial technologies for gathering data useful for plantation, pest surveillance, and weather predictions.
The use of data and information obtained from such resources can be optimized by digitalizing the farm and the farmer. With the coronavirus situation and the social-distancing protocol affecting the labor and agricultural inputs availability, smart agricultural technologies like precision agriculture and UAVs can be used effectively to manage agricultural fields.
The founder and CEO of CropIn Technology, Krishna Kumar, shares a similar view: “The fundamental aspect is the digitization of the farm and farmer. We have a platform that is crop- and location-agnostic, local language friendly, and combines data sources like satellite, field surveys, weather, and ground data points.”
Furthermore, CropIn‘s platform has registered a remarkable surge in digital adoption during the COVID pandemic due to limitations forcing the workforce to adopt alternative means to monitor and control farm operations. There has been an exceptional rise in the use of CropIn’s mobile and web-based applications in the last few months.
Many Indian agri-tech start-ups like SatSure, CropIn, Niruthi, AgRisk, and government programs help in sowing and crop monitoring, capturing and analyzing various data points, including crop, soil, and weather data, all of which can assist in decision making and facilitate farmers’ access to crop insurance and institutional credit. Such agencies will not only help to sustain the agro-sector of India in the wake of this pandemic but also propel it towards significant growth.
Rashika Solomon is a recent graduate in Agricultural Engineering from Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences, in India. She has a keen interest in exploring the vast domain of precision agriculture and how it can be practically put to application in India. In addition, Solomon plans to pursue a master’s research degree in the same field.