IAS Mantra Series : Science & Technology (e-Technology for Farmers)

 

Farming and Information Technology seems to be the most distantly placed knowledge sets in the world. Farming being the most primitive and most basic of the jobs and IT related being the most advanced and most modern. However we know the importance of farming as it is essential for life maintenance on the surface of mother earth and it is important for the developments in IT to aid for the betterment of farming to produce better. E-Agriculture is a new area of knowledge emerging out of convergence of IT and farming techniques. It enhances the agricultural value chain through the application of Internet and related technologies. Basically IT helps farmers to have better access to information which increases the productivity. It also enables him to get better prices through information of change in price in different markets. The information related to policies and programs of government, schemes for farmers, institutions through which these schemes are implemented, new innovations in agriculture, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Institutions providing new agricultural inputs(high yielding seeds, new fertilizers etc) and training in new techniques are disseminated to farmers through use of Information technology to ensure inclusiveness and to avoid digital divide. Access to price information, access to agriculture information, access to national and international markets, increasing production efficiency and creating a ‘conducive policy environment’ are the beneficial outcomes of e-Agriculture which enhance quality of life of farmers. Soil Management, Water Management, Seed Management, Fertilizer Management, Pest Management, Harvest Management and Post Harvest Management are the important components of e-Agriculture where technology aids farmers with better information and alternatives. It uses a host of technologies like Remote Sensing, Computer Simulation, Assessment of speed and direction of Wind, Soil quality assays, Crop Yield predictions and Marketing using IT. In India e-Agriculture is a mission mode project (MMP) under national e-governance plan envisaged by department of IT. MMP on Agriculture is handled by state governments and is termed NeGP-A(National e-Governance Policy- Agriculture). Different state government initiatives like e-Krishi by Kerala, e-Krishi Vipanan bu Madhyapradesh are included in NeGP-A. Though lots of problems like technical feasibility of connectivity in rural areas, cost involved in ensuring services, need for basic computer literacy and literacy hinders the fast development of e-Agriculture, it will definitely be an engine of growth in Rural India once the initial hiccups are overcome.

By

Dr Haroon Ashraf, Associate Faculty, ALS

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