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AI to address challenges in the agriculture sector

Agriculture remains a priority sector, supporting about 58% of the country’s population, but reports show that technology adoption in this sector is in transition and faces multiple challenges throughout the value chain.

India’s agriculture is in transition and the sector is focused on integrating technologies for better operation, however, there are many challenges encountered by the sector along the value chain according to reports from PwC and FICCI.

The technological solutions can provide the disruptive interventions required by these challenges as per the report entitled ‘’Redefining agriculture through artificial intelligence: Predicting the unpredictable.

It also states that the agriculture sector requires to be in a position to provide continuous supply to the country as well as the world since the need for food and nutrition has changed post the pandemic.

As per the report, a holistic approach must be adapted by the complete system based on domestic and conventional farming knowledge combined with transformative smart farming practices, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools and approaches.

The report also states that the AI technologies adoption will result in higher production with ideal resource utilization and also simplifying predictive analysis, crop health management, and improving quality and traceability among other things.

According to the report, the country’s adoption of new and transformative smart farming practices is slowly turning to be a trendsetter.

Steps are being taken to motivate smart farming practices, according to the report. They include the following:

  1. Smart and technology-driven resource management
  2. Modernization of Agri supply chains
  3. Climate risk mitigation strategy
  4. Digitization of farm collectives as farmer producer organizations
  5. The emergence of a startup ecosystem, and
  6. Government initiatives in digital farming

Global technological advances in recent years have re-engineered both the upstream and downstream segments of the agricultural value chain.

According to the report, the sector overcomes the challenges of productivity, quality, traceability, and carbon emission challenges while increasing profitability with the assistance of AI cutting-edge technologies like

  1. IoT (Internet of Things)
  2. ML (Machine Learning)
  3. Cloud computing
  4. Statistical computing
  5. Deep learning
  6. Virtual Reality (VR) and
  7. Augmented Reality (AR)

Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are primarily used in agriculture.

According to the report, as the country’s agriculture sector develops further, the use of drones in farming methods is expected to increase, with many startups investing in low-cost drones that can help farmers, improve their knowledge, and create jobs for rural youth.

The government is also enabling an institutional ecosystem for agritech startups through incubators, according to the statement.

The NITI Aayog has adopted the theme of ‘AI for all’ and laid out broad recommendations for nurturing India’s AI ecosystem.

Despite progress in developing and nurturing an AI-enabled ecosystem, the agriculture sector faces several issues and challenges that must be addressed in order to facilitate a smooth transition, according to the report.

The main challenges encountered by the agricultural sector with the AI innovation and technology aspects are a limited pool of AI and sectoral expertise, current gaps in public AI research, poor data quality and lack of access to data, and a lack of coordination and cross-border collaboration.

According to the report, these challenges can be addressed through a ‘3S’ strategy that employs the levers of Scale, Skill, and Service to change AI into Agri intelligence, leading to universal adoption of the technology in the ecosystem through the collective efforts of key actors as change drivers.

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