Agtech is sowing the seeds of change in India, but its adoption needs to be widespread.

The agriculture sector, which accounts for 18 percent of India’s GDP and employs nearly 60 percent of the workforce, is facing significant growth and ongoing challenges. According to RedSeer projections, the share of agriculture could rise to $86 billion by FY26. However, its productivity lags behind agricultural giants such as the United States, Brazil and China. The industry is challenged by unpredictable climate change and the urgent need to integrate modern technology to improve productivity and profitability. In the past, the Green Revolution marked a turning point that achieved self-sufficiency in food grain production. However, the challenges of the new era require advanced solutions. The advent of biotechnology, mechanization and digital tools such as geographic information systems (GIS) are changing agricultural practices. With the help of precision agriculture, robotics, artificial intelligence and blockchain technology, farmers can increase yields, improve supply chain management and better prepare for climate challenges.

Despite the potential of Agritech, its penetration remains low, with only one percent of farmers in India using software in their operations according to EC and only two percent according to NASSCOM. Affordability and accessibility are significant barriers to the wider adoption of the technology by farmers.

Increasing rural penetration

Yet, there’s an undeniable digital shift. India’s active internet users rose to 759 million in 2022 as per “Internet in India Report 2022”, with a substantial number of rural users. In fact, rural internet users are expected to constitute 56 per cent of new internet users by 2025. Social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, along with digital payment systems like UPI, are increasingly penetrating into rural areas.

Innovative uses of technology are becoming common, with farmers live-streaming auctions, using apps to check market prices, and turning to digital platforms for advice on enhancing soil health and boosting crop yields. A medium-sized farmer can double his yield through soil testing, showing the tangible benefits of the technology. Such a technological orientation requires innovative and user-friendly solutions, broadband connections, smartphones, etc. The government is actively promoting technology in the agricultural sector. On January 26, 2022, the government unveiled a certification system for agricultural drones, which can now carry payloads that do not contain chemicals or other liquids used in drone spraying. Such fluids may be injected subject to applicable rules and regulations.

Online ordering of agricultural supplies has become increasingly common among farmers, attracted by convenience and financial benefits. The use of technology is expanding into the sale of produce as farmers put their crops on digital markets, cutting out middlemen and providing better price discovery.

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