Improving Indian Agriculture by Usage of IT

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					   Application of IT in Agriculture




APPLICATION OF IT IN
  AGRICULTURE

   FROM: NIKHIL GANDHI

   ROLL NUMBER: FT 11338




                1               Great Lakes Institute of Management
                                                    Application of IT in Agriculture


Table of Contents
ABSTRACT ......................................................................................................................................... 3
INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................. 4
GREEN REVOLUTION ......................................................................................................................... 7
   Positives ........................................................................................................................................ 7
   Shortcomings ................................................................................................................................ 7
IT IN AGRICULTURE............................................................................................................................ 8
   Hardware ...................................................................................................................................... 8
   Software ........................................................................................................................................ 9
       Databases .................................................................................................................................. 9
       Decision Support Systems .......................................................................................................... 9
       Alliance & Cooperation Systems ................................................................................................ 9
       Order Processing Systems ........................................................................................................ 10
       Monitoring Systems ................................................................................................................. 10
       Forecasting Systems ................................................................................................................ 11
       Tracking & Tracing Mechanisms ............................................................................................... 12
Conclusion....................................................................................................................................... 12
References ...................................................................................................................................... 13




                                                                       2                      Great Lakes Institute of Management
                                    Application of IT in Agriculture


ABSTRACT
Agriculture has been traditionally an agriculture dependent economy. For the past six
decades, Indian agriculture has grown at around 2.7% year on year. Agriculture contributes to
about 18% of total Indian GDP & employs around 52% of countries total workforce1.

Indian agriculture is the second largest in the world. With a total land of around 168 Million
hectares, India ranks second best to US. Out of the total land available, 60 Million hectares is
under proper irrigation facilities & the rest of it is dependent on monsoon for crop yield. The
United Nations estimates that with assured irrigation, India's food grains output can increase
SIX times within five years- enough to feed two planet Earths.

Few achievements of Indian agriculture are 2 –

          India is the largest producer of wheat in the world
          India is the largest producer of Rice in the world
          India is among the largest vegetable oil economies in the world
          India is the largest producer of Tea in the world
          India is the second largest producer of Fruits in the world
          India is the largest producer of Milk in the world
          India is the largest producer of Coffee in the world
          India is the largest producer of Cotton in the world



The paper will look at various aspects of Indian agriculture & the major improvements which
can be brought by use of IT.




1
    http://agricoop.nic.in/
2
    www.wikipedia.org


                                                 3               Great Lakes Institute of Management
                                      Application of IT in Agriculture


INTRODUCTION
According to the World Bank statement of 2008, “Slow agricultural growth is a concern for
policymakers as some two-thirds of India’s people depend on rural employment for a living.
Current agricultural practices are sustainable neither economically nor environmentally &
India's traditional yields for lots of agricultural commodities are low. Poorly maintained
irrigation systems and severely lacking good extension services are among the factors
responsible. Farmers' access to markets is hampered by poor roads, rudimentary market
infrastructure, and excessive regulations.”

The major reasons of productivity losses in India are

       India’s large subsidies to agricultural sector have left the sector craving for the
        productivity enriching investments
       The irrigation system’s in most parts of India are severely underdeveloped
       Most of the farmers are illiterate or have very basic education which makes them
        averse to changes & they stick to traditional methods of farming which are inefficient
        in more than one way for today’s scenario
       Government policies about agriculture change from time to time according to
        foreseen political benefits which grossly ignores the goodwill of agriculture as a
        sector
       The average size of land holdings is very small (less than 20,000 m²) and is subject to
        fragmentation, due to land ceiling acts and in some cases, family disputes. Such small
        holdings are often over-manned, resulting in disguised unemployment and low
        productivity of labour
       Small land sizes limit the capacity of farmers to use advance technological devices

      Indian Agricultural exports for the year 2009-2010 are as follows3




3
    http://tradejunction.apeda.com/indexp/monthexp.aspx


                                                   4               Great Lakes Institute of Management
                                     Application of IT in Agriculture




                                                      Value
          12000


          10000


           8000


           6000


           4000


           2000                                                                                   Value


              0




      India’s export partners are4




4
    http://www.economywatch.com/indianeconomy/export-import.html


                                                  5               Great Lakes Institute of Management
                                       Application of IT in Agriculture




      India went for Green Revolution5 under able guidance of “Shri Gulzari Lal Nada”, “Shri
      Lal Bahadur Shastri” & “Indira Gandhi”. It helped Indian agriculture grab a place on
      world map.




5
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Revolution_in_India


                                                    6               Great Lakes Institute of Management
                                      Application of IT in Agriculture


GREEN REVOLUTION
India started taking strong steps towards self dependence in the field of food in the sixties
decade. The movement was headed by Dr. Norman Borlaug 6. The motive of this movement
was to introduce high yielding seeds to Indian farmers & use various methods of agricultural
productivity improvement like crop rotation, improved fertilizers, irrigation techniques etc.
This resulted in continuous growth in agricultural production since 1965. The technique was
once widely praised. But now-a-days, it has come under fire from various sectors for
excessive use of fertilizers, loss of land productivity, damaged food cycle & introduction of
poisonous substances in food chain.

Positives
       High product yield per acre from 1965 to 1980
       Introduction of high yielding varieties across India
       Increased profitability for the farmers
       Self dependence achieved by India in food sector
       India became one of the major exporters of Agricultural products
       New & improved irrigation techniques improved the water usage to some extent

Shortcomings
       Uncontrolled usage of pesticides has lead to a severe drop in crop productivity
       The chemical, biological & radiation toxicity is rampant in Indian soil
       The ppm7 proportion of fertilizer content in food is way above the WHO 8 average
       Extensive crop yields in some parts of India & a normal yield in some parts has lead
        to income disparity in various sections of Indian Society
       The interstate disparities between various states due to uneven implementation lead to
        loss of faith between states
       The high investments every year for fertilizers & pesticides may lead the farmer in
        debt trap9




6
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Borlaug
7
  Parts Per Million
8
  World Health Organization
9
  http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Debt_trap


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                                       Application of IT in Agriculture


IT IN AGRICULTURE
IT in agriculture can be divided into two broad parts

       1. Hardware
       2. Software

Hardware
Hardware10 provided by constantly evolving technology has proved to be a boon for the
Indian farmers. The touch screen monitors have made it possible to provide information to
the farmers living in remote parts of India. This has breached the barriers of language,
information technology limitations & has made the whole process intuitive to the farmers.
This has also eliminated the need for a learned person as a facilitator between the farmers &
the technology which brings with it abundant information.

The cost effective & easy to carry digital cameras, handy cams, web cameras have made it
possible to teach the farmers an easy task. It has opened up the possibilities of teaching the
farmers about various farming techniques & shares other information in the form of videos. It
has also widened the reach of farmers when it comes to meeting a farming expert. Farmers
can directly take the photos of crops & upload the same to discuss about various problems
faced by them with the experts without the need of experts coming down to their fields for
personal observation.

The advent in space technology has made it possible to predict the weather patterns. This has
proved immensely helpful to farmers who are completely dependent on monsoon for all the
irrigation needs of their farm. This has also helped the farmers in selecting a particular basket
of crops for a particular year depending on the weather patterns.

The development in networking technology has made it possible to extend the reach of
internet & telephones to the farms of villagers. This has helped the farmers in staying
connected with the rest of the world, gather weather updates, find various irrigation patterns
& view all the latest research finding in the comfort of their farms.

Sensors for tracking have helped farmers in keeping track of their farm growth. It has also
helped in stopping the theft, illegal eating by animals etc. It has also led to an interesting
trend called as Joint Farming. 11 This has increased their purchasing & bargaining power when
it comes to seeds, fertilizers, market value of the products. It also shields small farmers from
unexpected losses & financial burden due to the same. The concepts like organic farming &
zero fertilizer farming can be effectively & efficiently implemented. It also frees up cash for
experimentation & usage of new technologies like improved tractors, farming equipments.




10
     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardware
11
     http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2006/05/08/stories/2006050801830300.htm


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                                         Application of IT in Agriculture


IT has also helped in bringing the techniques like Precision Farming 12 which have worked
well in the western countries. The techniques of remote sensing using well developed satellite
technologies, geographical information systems (GIS) and soil sciences are used to increase
the total agricultural output.

Software
The software used for the growth in agricultural sector can be used for two major purposes.

       A. Direct improvements to the yield
       B. Educating the farmers about best practises

The software can be helpful in below mentioned ways

Databases
The databases will provide the farmers about the various rules & regulations in Indian as well
as international scenario. It will tell the farmers about the WTO 13 regulations & the import –
export rules of various countries. It will help the farmers in identifying various export
opportunities adding to their financial strength & they can add various crops to their portfolio
for earning better income. This will also give information platform for the farmers to share
common knowledgebase & gain valuable insights.

Decision Support Systems
Indian farmers have been traditionally risk averse & they love to stick to their traditional
methods of cultivation. The decisions taken by them have huge financial implications for
them since missing a single season can mean beginning of a debt trap for farmers. India is
believed to have a traditional competitive advantage in the field of fruits, oil seeds, cotton and
milk products. Indian farmers can strengthen their portfolio of products by making risky
decisions if they can be assured by some system about the possible outcomes of their
decisions with a certain level of confidence.

A cumulative data gathering supporting a decision support system (DSS) will go a long way
in ensuring that farmers have a platform where they can test their decisions. The farmers can
then go for implementing these decisions feeling confident about the outcome. This will
surely mean that farmers will go for varied set of crops & will build a competitive advantage
in those areas.

Alliance & Cooperation Systems
The concept of pooling in individual resources like land, labour, capital, equipments etc for
the purpose of Joint Farming can get a big boost if the alliance & cooperation systems are
built & are made available to interested farmers. This will remove the inherent suspicion that
someone is grabbing a major share & is cheating with the rest of the group.



12
     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precision_agriculture
13
     http://www.wto.org/


                                                          9           Great Lakes Institute of Management
                                 Application of IT in Agriculture


                                        The systems will bring in the much required
                                        transparency in the whole process of sharing. The
                                        farmers will be able to view the progress on a timely
                                        basis & then can take appropriate decisions. It will
                                        also help in bringing out the patterns in the field of
                                        Joint Farming which has remained a taboo in modern
                                        India. The analysis of this data will help in refining
                                        the process & making it better for the generations to
come.

This will require development of complicated IT systems which are to be supported by proper
bricks and mortar infrastructure and post harvest technologies, storage, etc. This will need a
big capital inflow which can be surely taken out of government grants under various
schemes.

Order Processing Systems
Farmers can be helped a ton by development of a web enabled order processing application.
Currently there are as much as 17 links in supply chain in Indian Agricultural Market 14. This
                                 simply means that the prices are inflated 17 times before the
                                 products can reach the end consumers. In this case, neither
                                 the consumers nor the producers (farmers) gain anything.
                                 This chain can be eliminated by a web application for order
                                 placement & processing.

                                   The application can show the current market prices, stocks
                                   available with every farmer & its quality. The buyers (Super
                                   markets / malls / grocery shops) can then purchase directly
                                   from the farmers. The common transportation system will
facilitate the flow of goods. This system will make sure that end consumers have fresh food,
there is no illegal stocking for artificial price increases & the farmers will get their money’s
worth. This system will require coordination between various government & non government
bodies to ensure that all the gaps are plugged before a major damage is done.

Monitoring Systems
                               The domestic agricultural scene is now-a-days exposed to
                               international fluctuations hence it is necessary to be vigilant to
                               external shocks. Systems to monitor international market
                               status, international supply & demand scenario, macro
                               economic factors, political disruptions are required to be
                               developed. Advance warning systems to alert the farmers
                               should be developed. It is absolutely necessary to promote the
                               monitoring cells in all major institutions related to agriculture


14
     http://agricoop.nic.in/


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                                       Application of IT in Agriculture


and allied activities to maintain data, provide periodic analytical reports and raise advance
alerts.

Forecasting Systems
Since India is majorly dependent on monsoon for its crop yield, tonnes of food grains go
waste because either there is no space to store extra production happening in a bumper yield
year or the storage facilities are so far & so costly that they outweigh the benefits achieved
from food storage. In India, 20 Million Tonnes or 1/10 th of the total harvest of food goes
waste in government shelters15. This food is more than enough to feed 325000 people.




To tackle this system, India needs to build a robust yield forecasting system which will
consider multiple environmental factors like El Nino 16, Monsoon Cycles17 etc on the yield in
various parts of the country. If India can predict the yield well before the actual season starts,
the temporary shelters can be built, import-export policies can be tweaked to accommodate
for the yield variations. This will result in humungous cost savings for government which in
turn can be passed on for research in the field of agriculture. This money can also be used to
subsidize the food made available to poor people.




15
     http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-s-mountains-of-shame/Article1-525218.aspx
16
     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Ni%C3%B1o-Southern_Oscillation
17
     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsoon


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                                   Application of IT in Agriculture


Tracking & Tracing Mechanisms
With quality norms going sky high in recent years, it has become absolutely necessary to
track & trace the food consignments sent across. This helps in assessing the food quality
being sent & the food quality being received. This helps in plugging the gaps in food supply
system. This can also help in guaranteeing the food safety & quality.

Tracking mechanisms can also help in increasing of the logistics operations. The supply chain
& the associated logistics can be studied thoroughly & process improvements can be done
wherever required. This will also help reduce the food losses happening due to excessive
delays leading to rotten food, theft, rodent problems etc.


Conclusion
The challenges are many in front of Indian food industry. These challenges have become a political
agenda & they are not resolved in past 60+ years post independence. These challenges have posed
serious threat to India in today’s world where water is not a commodity but is a scarcity. A world
where number of hungry people is going up every second & a world where deaths by malnutrition
are becoming a common scenario.

India, being an IT giant can find solution to most of its problems by effective implementation of
information technology. The willingness of Indian government & the farmers is the key to solution. If
the farmers take the firm steps towards venturing into an IT enabled Indian agricultural, strongly
backed by Indian government, India can surely take on the world when it comes to food security &
modern farming techniques.




                                                12                                                      Great
                                   Application of IT in Agriculture


References
http://agricoop.nic.in/
www.wikipedia.org
http://tradejunction.apeda.com/indexp/monthexp.aspx
http://www.economywatch.com/indianeconomy/export-import.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Revolution_in_India
http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Debt_trap
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2006/05/08/stories/2006050801830300.htm
http://www.wto.org/
http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-s-mountains-of-shame/Article1-525218.aspx
http://125.19.12.220/




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DOCUMENT INFO
Description: The document states about the usage of Information Technology to improve the yield in agricultural sector. It tells simple & cost effective ways to implement IT for betterment of agricultural yield.