Combining milk and code: how agtech innovations can transform the future of Indian agriculture.

India’s vast and diverse agricultural landscape, covering 160 million hectares and tended by 151 million farmers, plays an important role, accounting for five percent of the country’s GDP (World Bank, 2023). Despite its scale, challenges remain, including fragmented land tenure and vulnerability to unpredictable weather events, which limit its full potential. Among these challenges, however, is a notable segment – ​​the Indian dairy sector, which is the world leader, producing an impressive 188 million tonnes of milk annually (National Dairy Development Board, 2023). This sector, which accounts for 26 percent of the total value added of agriculture, not only feeds millions, but also supports the livelihood of more than 80 million people (Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, 2023).

Like agriculture, the dairy industry struggles with issues such as inadequate cold chain infrastructure, variable milk quality and income inequality between farmers. Join agro-tech, a transformative force with 50 percent annual growth (FICCI-KPMG Report, 2023). Example: More than 1,000 agritech startups have emerged in India recently. This digital wave has the potential to change the lives of those dedicated to livestock farming. However, this is possible through, for example, smart sensors that optimize nutrition by monitoring feed of individual animals (Krishi Bhavan, 2023), blockchain technology that ensures traceability of milk, fosters consumer confidence, and ensures a fair price for farmers (India Council of Agricultural Research, 2023)  or even telemedicine reaches remote villages, offers real-time veterinary consultation and reduces animal mortality (ET Agro, 2023).

An integral part of the economy

The Indian dairy industry, an integral part of the economy and livelihood, combines various agrotechnical interventions to improve productivity. In the field of smart feeding and livestock management, IoT-based feeding devices monitor sensors to avoid feeding individual animals and optimize feeding. Wearable devices monitor the activity and health of cows, help monitor the reproductive cycle and detect diseases early. Real-time milk analyzers assess the performance of individual cows and adjust feeding accordingly.

To improve the quality and safety of milk, a cold chain infrastructure with intelligent milk collection systems ensures quality and minimizes spoilage. Blockchain technology tracks milk from farm to table, ensuring transparency and consumer trust. Portable fake detection devices quickly identify counterfeit milk and promote justice against genuine producers. To increase farmers’ income and market access, online dairy platforms connect farmers directly to consumers and eliminate middlemen. Digital dairy cooperatives enable collective bargaining and information exchange between farmers and strengthen them in the market. Mobile apps provide market analysis, best practices and financial services. High-yield cow breeding programs optimize genetic selection and improve milk production and quality. Telemedicine for domestic animals offers remote veterinary consultation, improves animal health and reduces mortality.

Government Initiatives to Support Economic Growth

India’s agricultural technology market, currently valued at US$ 13.5 billion in 2023, is projected to grow significantly to US$ 34 billion by 2027 at an impressive CAGR of 50 percent. This significant growth is fueled by a number of factors, such as increasing demand for food amid population growth and rising incomes. Agtech solutions play a key role in increasing yields, minimizing losses and enhancing food safety. This growth trajectory is further strengthened by government initiatives such as the Digital Agriculture Mission and the Agricultural Infrastructure Fund, which provide farmers with financial support, infrastructure development and access to technology. In addition, increased internet penetration and widespread adoption of smartphones in rural India is creating an enabling environment for seamless integration of digital solutions, opening new channels for agritech startups to engage directly with farmers.

India’s agriculture and allied areas are benefiting from advantages such as precision farming practices facilitated by sensors, drones and artificial intelligence analytics that optimize the use of resources resulting in higher yields and lower costs. Agtech platforms provide farmers with weather forecasts, market insights and optimal farming methods, enabling informed decisions and efficient farm management. Technologies such as soil sensors and remote monitoring systems promote sustainable agriculture by helping to conserve water, minimize fertilizer use and reduce environmental impact.

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