IoT - A perspective for indian agriculture sector

Today Indian agriculture is a battlefield out there as you can make out from the picture! And IOT mean different things to different people. The agriculture sector in India, which has so far been far-far away from technology advances, with IOT, now it comes to the forefront of technology for deploying the myriad of applications. IOT opens up a plethora of applications that farmers, growers, dairy & allied cottage industry, which they can deploy, boosting productivity and gains. But few things remain to be fixed before this becomes a reality. A lot of work is required, from platform creation to communication framework by the state dept, providing the information seamlessly and as a continuous source for users.

For the Indian agriculture, these are interesting times with IOT, there are indeed various perspectives and complex issues that can deal with – from Climate, Monsoon prediction to the local eco-system, demographics, terrain, topology & locale-specific detail such as crop patterns, livestock, market check, social & cultural aspects, economic & political aspects. There are different dimensions one need to think about –such as Economics, Research, Social, Labor or Effort, Health(Food Safety), etc… which then drives the meaningful application of technology as available in the form of IOT. Further to simplify this vast and complex subject, one can put it into 4 or 5 broad spectrum areas of Agri-space :

Here’s a list of principles that can guide companies on their IOT journey while keeping the risk manageable: Input Side: Farm Equipment, Fertilizers, Labor and others), Cultivation: Sowing, crop protection, yield/production, harvesting, soil science, plant pathology & life science, climate, monsoon & weather, harvesting, stocking & logistics, sales & income ), Output Side: Warehouse & Logistics, Pricing, Availability, Demand & Supply, Refrigeration, Storage & Transportation, Pre-processing & Processing, Point of Sale(POS) & Consumption / Purchase by end users.

Government Policy: Implementation, reporting & Feedback ( this has been one of the biggest challenges so far, that can be addressed to a large extent with technology & IOT). Building awareness and community programs.

Technical Research: By the Universities and Extension Departments. Pilot programs and propagation of best practices. Over the last few years, I have been trying to understand the overall Agriculture space in India and mainly in the context of technology and trying to bridge the divide. It is astonishing to see the ground realities and the actual work being done in this field, however, a lot of work needs to be done in terms of building the platforms that can then becomes a means for the actual smaller & usable solutions by farming community. These smaller solutions, based on the platforms and technology frameworks created & managed by the state agencies, can then be leveraged by the start-ups or specialty companies for building the variety of products, services, and solutions.

In my current pursuits, I have been meeting, interviewing and talking to people across the breadth and width of this, including the likes of ISRO technocrats, Universities, Relevant State Dept., NGOs, Tech Start-ups, NASSCOM members, Investors and Major companies playing in this area. And shall be happy to work for the betterment of the Indian Agriculture Sector with IOT and bringing it a step closure to SMART Agriculture!

Above excerpts from keynote speech on "I0T – A Perspective for Agriculture Sector" as presented in the ITC2016 Thanks to Indian Technology Congress for inviting me to chair the IOT session & address a keynote.