The ever-growing food problem can be addressed with the adoption of advanced tech tools in agriculture - An insight into the key tools for smart farming.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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The ever-growing food problem can be addressed with the adoption of advanced tech tools in agriculture - An insight into the key tools for smart farming.

Food security, defined as the state in which people, at any point in time, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for a healthy and dynamic life, is one of many prerequisites for political stability and economic health. However, food insecurity remains highest among women, children, and migrant workers. These were also the groups hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, whose livelihoods were destroyed, thus limiting their access to affordable food and adequate nutrition. In addition to this, climate change, which gives pests and disease an increased opportunity to breed, feed, and proliferate remains a formidable threat to food security for all of us. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the crop devastation caused by trillions of thumb-sized locusts in 2020 has put some 42 million people across ten countries in Africa and Asia at risk of severe, acute food insecurity.

India embodies 17% of the total world population, hence there is a greater urgency to ensure food security for this ever-growing population.

While India has an enormous agricultural land area, however, the holdings are mostly small-sized fields. These small-holder farmers are considered vulnerable when it comes to climate change and food insecurity. More than 58 percent of operational holdings in the country are smaller than one hectare, hence, building resilience and improving food productivity of these smallholder farmers and their communities is critical to improving food security.

The age of smart farming is here

Mobile networks, digital technologies, and superior crop varieties hold enormous potential to reverse this trend and put the world on a path to reaching the United Nation’s Sustainable Development goal of Zero Hunger by enhancing farm productivity. Smart farming concepts such as information and technology-based innovation with sustainability attributes can be suitably deployed to achieve this goal.

Innovation powers integrated solutions to meet farmers’ needs today and to anticipate tomorrow’s challenges. These integrated solutions leverage the resources and expertise to create bio-genetic technologies, to develop sustainable innovation with greater quality, accuracy and with more efficiency. These solutions coupled with digital tools can help farmers access data crucial to managing their farms to improve their productivity. In markets like India, farmers are using mobile apps and social media to connect with the supply chain partners so they are aware of the shifts in market demand and modern operations.

Tech tools for sustainable agriculture

Agricultural drone mapping makes agriculture smarter, and food systems more resilient and inclusive. The newer software in drone mapping technology is helping in bringing efficiency in the current processes to review early crop growth. AI and machine learning provide faster, automated, and accurate data that help farmers make decisions about replanting, monitor seed and crop health, and diagnose existing issues in the field before larger issues arise to deal with them timely. These critical interventions in precision farming help the farmers to optimize the resources which help in conserving the environment and move towards productivity improvement.

Another example of an integrated and sustainable way of food production are Seed Applied Technologies (SATs). SATs are essentially the technology that provides protection and growth with the seeds that are supplied in a bag intended for healthy growth and development of the crop. This can include seed treatment with fungicides, insecticides, nematicides, and biologicals offering a solution to the farmer to maximize farm productivity. Once seeds are in the ground, they are vulnerable to early-season pests and diseases. Seed Applied Technologies get crops off to a good start by enabling early crop establishment which is a key driver for the successful final yield.

These tools arm the farmers’ team, including agronomists, seeds representatives, and agri researchers, to help their customers recognize their greatest yield potential. With the government emphasizing doubling the farmer income, the role of private initiatives is also critical for newer sustainable technologies which help farmers advance crop protection and farm output. Agriculture players, food companies, and grain processors, among others, need to collaborate using digital connectivity to help farmers anticipate both consumer trends and nutritional needs so they can meet them more consistently. Ranging from new seed varieties to digital platforms, the power of these new technologies along with sustained research and development, encouraged by sufficient funding will be required to ensure a food-secure future.

Edwin-corteva[author title=”” image=”http://”]Edwin Rogbell Jeyasingh, South Asia Field Sciences Leader (Crop Protection Discovery & Development) at Corteva Agriscience[/author]

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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