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Friday / April 19. 2024
HomeAgrotechHarnessing precision farming technology for climate-smart agriculture

Harnessing precision farming technology for climate-smart agriculture

By Rohit Lall, Joint Project Director, National Committee on Precision Agriculture and Horticulture, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India

Climate change presents significant challenges to the agrifood sector, affecting producers’ incomes and food security. Recent climate-smart innovations in agrifood that enhance producers’ incomes while promoting sustainable solutions among farmers will make a big difference to the farming community. Precision agriculture, a key climate-smart innovation, employs advanced technologies and techniques to maximise resource efficiency and enhance crop yields. These technologies allow for targeted and efficient resource use, minimising waste and environmental impact. Let’s explore how precision farming will promote sustainability by reducing the ecological footprint of agricultural activities.

Agriculture remains the cornerstone of India’s economy, serving as the primary source of livelihood for nearly half of the country’s workforce. As such, advancements in agriculture directly impact the prosperity of a significant portion of the population, particularly those with lower incomes. However, the sector faces formidable challenges exacerbated by the effects of climate change, including extreme weather events and shifting seasons, which pose serious threats to agricultural productivity and farmer incomes. Addressing these challenges is crucial to ensuring the long-term sustainability and economic viability of the agrifood sector.

Moreover, India’s agricultural landscape exhibits considerable regional disparities, stemming from factors such as suboptimal input utilisation, limited access to modern technology, and stagnant technological innovation. Additionally, farmers often struggle to realise profitable prices for their produce due to inefficiencies in the agricultural marketing system, resulting in dwindling farm sizes and a decline in land cultivation, as farmers migrate in search of better job opportunities elsewhere. Because land leasing laws make it risky to lease land, increasingly, productive land is being left uncultivated. The dominance of paddy cultivation in Kharif and wheat in Rabi seasons further underscores the need for diversification toward high-value agricultural commodities such as fruits, vegetables, and animal products such as milk, poultry, fish and meat, driven by increasing incomes and urbanisation. Although per capita consumption of food grains has declined over the years, its total demand has been projected to increase due to the rise in population. To facilitate growth in productivity, it is important to ensure that farmers receive lucrative prices for their produce.

In response to these challenges, precision agriculture has emerged as a promising solution, with both central and state governments actively promoting its adoption. Notably, initiatives such as the centre’s flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) – Per Drop More Crop (PDMC) have significantly expanded micro irrigation coverage across the country, making notable strides on the global irrigation landscape. The robust participation of over 300 registered micro irrigation system suppliers registered under the PDMC scheme reflects the growing momentum toward precision agriculture adoption. Today over 15 mega hectares (mha) have been covered under micro irrigation across the country. Additionally, a conducive business environment has incentivised a greater number of Micro Irrigation Systems (MIS) suppliers to expand their manufacturing capacities, further propelling the growth of the sector.  Precision agriculture holds immense potential to enhance agricultural productivity, mitigate the impact of climate change, and improve farmer livelihoods. As India strives towards agricultural prosperity, continued support and investment in precision farming technologies will be pivotal in realising these goals.

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