Why is data important?

By Mr. Kshitij Parikh, Strategist, Mahyco

When an Indian farmer is busy sowing crops and seeds in his field, he probably doesn’t think of the word ‘data’ or ‘big data’. This reflects how in India, farming continues to be more primitive than its potential.

Data in agriculture has major benefits. Measurement data helps the farmers to gauge climatic conditions, soil fertility etc. which enables them to make quicker and more informed decisions. For example, if the measurement database forecasts rain, the farmer can time the sowing of the seeds and decide the crop he would like to grow according to the forecasted rains.. As farmers are able to predict and optimize the use of inputs in their fields, they invest only in required quantity, thereby reducing wastages, ensuring higher productivity. Data also helps the farmers to decrease risk factors like increasing transparency in the buyer and supplier system which, in turn, strengthens the supply chain management.

A large amount of data (Databases) helps to track the number of farmers in the area which identifies all individuals and bring them into the agriculture economy more effectively. Haryana for example, is one of the most agriculture friendly state in India and is currently working on an action plan focusing on building a database to map all the progressive farmers of the state. Haryana State Horticulture Development Agency is leading the initiative as a part of the vision 2022 in Haryana.

Data mining uses applications to forecast instances that could extensively affect your crops. Brian Marshall, a farmer in Missouri (US), uses data mining to even locate a tractor in his field! He says that not just tracking, data is stored in his tractor which use GPS signals to locate crops, seeds and they can operate all by themselves without even an inch of an error. Vietnam, for instance, on a large scale uses satellite data for improving the effectiveness of existing services and output of smallholder rice farmer. 

With the established benefits of data and its role in agriculture, here is hoping that the farmers in India will have access to more organized big data soon, which would change agriculture for better.