ARTICLE IN FOCUS
The need of the hour is a shift from production-centric agricultural practices to market-centric agricultural practices and giving market access to all the farmers, particularly smallholding farmers.
External factors such as erratic climatic conditions, lack of infrastructure, awareness, etc., contribute to the lack of desired yields. Technological innovation, knowledge transfer at grass root levels, and leveraging the digital medium for real time solutions can transform the sector and make it overcome most of the difficulties.
The Central Government has been highly proactive with its legislations and is constantly pushing to reform the sector, which requires not only active support from the State Governments but the farming community too.
Traditionally, it has been a struggle between farmers’ rights and the breeder / innovation rights of private corporations in the agriculture sector. The laws made and to be made should not fail to recognise and acknowledge the rights of innovative farmers in bringing new varieties and breeds.
Exports of Indian seeds and the foreign investments flowing into India can also be adversely impacted, if not climate conditions persist and its ill effects are neutralized, if not reversed.
India has a huge potential for becoming an export capital of seeds and agricultural products. However, there has to be much policy enablement and the requisite infrastructure to support the cause.
For any system to thrive, it should accommodate the competing interests of the stakeholders. Indian government is pushing for an increase in the pace of innovation. One such idea is the public-private collaboration for exchange of information and conducting collaborative research. This partnership cannot be just between the government and private sector, it should take into account the sentiments of ground level workers, who are at striving to support themselves, their families, community, governments, the country as a whole and the world at large.
Real happiness would be realised when the results of the research reach an individual to help him or her take an informed decision that makes everyone happy.
Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India’s population. Gross Value Added (GVA) by agriculture, forestry and fishing was estimated at INR 19.48 trillion (US$ 276.37 billion (bn)) in 2020 and growth in GVA for the sector stands at 4% this year.[ “Agriculture in India: Information About Indian Agriculture & Its Importance,” India Brand Equity Foundation, accessed In light of the above and acknowledging the pivotal role played by agriculture in the Indian economy, sustainable agriculture, in terms of food security, rural employment and environmentally sustainable technologies such as soil conservation, sustainable natural resource management and biodiversity protection, has been deemed essential for holistic rural development.
To reach these goals, historically, Indian agriculture and allied activities have witnessed a green revolution (food grain production), a white revolution (milk), a yellow revolution (oilseeds) and a blue revolution (fish). That being so, the need for innovation and digitisation in the agriculture sector rose once we got higher on the Jungian pyramid in farming. Now, there is also a need for a shift from a production-centric approach to a farmer’s individual income-centric approach.
“We need to take a step away from the Green Revolution, or the White Revolution that refers to milk and talk of an “income revolution” that is able to capture the entire value chain right from research up to the stage where the farmers are able to realize money in their pockets.” said Mr. Ashok Dalwai.
Accordingly, what is the need of the hour is a shift from production-centric infrastructure to market-centric infrastructure and giving market access to all the farmers, particularly smallholding farmers. What is required is moving away from business-as-usual and towards market orientation for agriculture, i.e., from agriculture as a welfare sector, to a business sector. This establishes the exact intent behind introduction of technology in agriculture and how it benefits or affects the various stakeholders of the sector, including seed manufacturing companies and corporates in this arena.
To stress on the new goal, being the use of data and information obtained from resources as on date to assist the agrarian community in drawing better yields and higher profits, this can be optimised by digitising the farm and the farmer. Especially right now, with the onset of COVID-19 and the social-distancing protocol affecting labor and agricultural input availability, smart agricultural technologies such as precision agriculture and Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) etc., can be used effectively to manage agricultural fields remotely.
It can be argued that the motive of pushing digital innovation in agriculture alone is not enough to decide results. External factors such as erratic climatic conditions and policy changes, both nationally and across borders, can contribute heavily towards the lack of desired yields. Technological advances, in that case, become a one-stop solution to combat these factors and molding policies or foreign relations in terms of encouraging such advances as well as highlighting innovations amongst all, seems a guaranteed win-win.
This paper aims to touch upon all such salient features of the industry, including regulation, best practices in the industry, etc., from the perspective of an important stakeholder in the framework: the “seed industry”, and hopes to serve as a contributor towards achieving a digital agricultural economy.