From launching a start-up with a vision to bring a data-driven approach in agriculture to creating an organization that has enriched the lives of nearly 4 million farmers, Krishn’s entrepreneurial journey has been full of amazing lessons that helped him learn and grow. He has established CropIn firmly as a leading Global Full-Stack AgTech Organization that provides SaaS solutions to agribusinesses, BFSI, government entities, and developmental agencies worldwide, with the mission to ‘maximize per-acre value’ for all stakeholders in the agri-ecosystem. With robust solutions that are crop and region agnostic, Krishna with his team at CropIn has so far digitized over 13 million acres of farmland, enriching the lives of nearly 4 million farmers in addition to creating a footprint in 52+ countries globally.
Digital transformation, popularly known as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution,’ has significantly transformed the agriculture and food sector. With the intervention of new and innovative technologies like IoT, AI, Blockchain, augmented reality, remote sensing, and distributed computing, farmers now have access to timely and accurate information on inputs, markets, finance, and the right package of practices adopted for informed decision making. The advanced technologies are making it possible to incorporate farmers into a technology-based agri-food system.
The agri-food sector faces multiple challenges as the food demand of the global population rises. To sustainably feed the growing population, we will require productive, effective, sustainable, comprehensive, transparent, and flexible food systems. To achieve this, there is an urgent need to transform the current agrifood system.
How has the agriculture industry transformed over the years?
Agriculture development has been the primary focus of the Indian government to ensure food security and poverty mitigation. Indian agriculture has significantly transformed over the years that from being dependent on food aid, we turned to a consistent net food exporter. This transformation has been made possible by various policies, production strategies like genetically engineered/ modified crops, investment in infrastructures like mechanization using machinery, tools and equipment, markets, institutions, and research. The outline of Indian agriculture has gradually changed as the focus of agricultural development shifted towards acknowledging and accepting the technological developments in the sector, following the vision to improve the conditions of the farmers financially.
From implementing institutional changes in agriculture like land reforms, operationalization of irrigation projects in the 50s to widespread adoption of dwarf and high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of wheat and rice in the 60s resulting in the well-known ‘green revolution,’ agriculture has transformed over the years. However, production growth has led to surpluses in several agricultural sectors, resulting in higher yields and lower prices. The need of the hour is to establish an equilibrium between the demand and supply. Agriculture has to become market-friendly and flexible by adopting productive efficiency and cost reduction, effective monetization strategies with the help of digital innovation and literacy.
Farmers shifting towards technology being used at the farm
Technological advancements in farming have transformed drastically over the years, from traditional machinery to modern/advanced equipment. The implication of technology in various decision-making processes at every farming stage to ensure better crop output has been a noteworthy development in the overall agricultural landscape. Now, farmers accept technological advancements to increase their potential in any agriculture endeavor. Farming methods are getting more innovative, less manual, with rising yields with the influx of digitization.
Currently, digital technology is enabling farmers with precise forecasting, improved production, data-driven decision-making, and more. The transformation has positively impacted many farmers and ultimately enhanced access to food products at reasonable prices.
How can digital adoption/digital literacy transform the sector?
Technical advancement is crucial for modern agriculture more than ever. Digitization provides economic growth, crop protection from diseases and pests, increase in both yield and income, better access to seeds and inputs, adaptation to climate change, favorable financial services, better crop pricing, etc. Agricultural technology has seen a considerable increase in investment in the last decade. Significant technology advancements have enhanced the Agriculture Knowledge Graph and enabled critical stakeholders of the Agri value chain with data-driven insights, and sustainably allowed to “maximize their per-acre value” by combining satellite imagery with IoT and field intelligence. Further enhancements in the industry are indoor vertical farming, robotics and automation, precision agriculture, livestock technology, AI, and blockchain.
Digital technology powered by Big Data in farming provides practical solutions for resolving complex challenges related to soil health, harvest quality and quantity, farmer KYC and plot data, crop images, pest and disease incidents, irrigation, geotagging, fertilization and chemical input sowing date, seed variety, and various agronomic data recording/observation during different crop stages.
Benefits that the farmers are getting by becoming digitally literate
The use of digital technology is essential for enhancing agriculture productivity by delivering tailored solutions to farmers based on the crop type, planting date, variety of seeds, localized weather information, and estimated market prices. Advanced big-data analytics are deployed for path-breaking inventions to improve soil quality and access the water stress level, resulting in better crop output, study yields, harvest dates, pests and diseases outbreaks, and pest control methods. The expansion of internet technology has enabled farmers’ unparalleled access to vast resources and tools to make farming operations easier.
Farmers are now capturing a higher portion of the marketable value of their produce thanks to democratized market pricing and reduced transaction costs due to digital literacy. To increase farmer efficiency, big data and mobile phones can increase upstream access to inputs and credit. Market integration and agreed-upon standards, prices, and grades provide targeted solutions for increasing agricultural productivity.
Future of the farmer community
It is essential to reform existing policies in Indian agriculture so that it becomes more market-oriented while at the same time enabling a digitally-driven environment. In rural areas, digital connectivity is vital for distributing low-cost data and easy access to farming information. Digital literacy will allow open access to equitable markets that would benefit the farmers to increase their profitability. There is also a growing need for investment in the development of multidisciplinary digital skills and knowledge.