Running Engines on Indian Fields

Indian agriculture is facing widespread challenges in the present day. Chief amongst them are the lack of agricultural research and innovation, coupled with labour scarcity. The need of the hour is innovation and new thinking. As per a report by Grant Thornton in 2016, the labor supply to agriculture is expected to reduce to just 26% by 2050.

Farm mechanization is slowly coming to play an important role in mitigating the challenge of labour scarcity. Certain stakeholders in the agricultural space have come to understand the importance of adopting farm mechanization and moving towards the implementation of this solution in the agricultural sector. Some of the farm machinery that are being prominently used for pre-harvest and post-harvest purposes in India are harvesters, tractors, threshers, balers, hay tools, transplanters and foragers.

Not a new form of agricultural practices, mechanization has been prevalent from medieval age when cavemen migrated from sticks to ploughs tied to bullocks and oxen. Today, mechanization has taken the form of tractors, harvesters, farmbots, drones and apps!

Even though only 40-45% of Indian farms are mechanized (which is much less as compared to economies of China and Brazil), Indian ecosystem has managed to tweak existing arrangements to suit the agricultural scenario in India. For instance, the Madhya Pradesh government has established custom hiring centres, that allow small holding farmers to hire farm machinery at minimal rates fixed by the government. This initiative by the government has increased farm yields by 20%, last year. SImilar initiatives are being taken by Karnataka Government to ensure that even small and marginal farmers who could otherwise not afford farm machinery are now reaping these benefits. An article in The Hindu Business Line has cited that in order to attain the projected demand of 280 mt of food grains by 2020-21, farm mechanisation has to be given primacy. Private organizations run collective farm mechanization programs in various states in India as well.

Farm mechanization is one example that stands proof to the fact that the implementation of innovation can truly revolutionize agriculture. Positive change in any form should be welcomed , be it farm mechanization that helps tackle labour scarcity or seed innovation that helps increase crop yields.

– Arjun Jagtap, Deputy Manager – Information Technology