When was the last time you saw a photograph in the newspaper which has a young farmer, using a drone or other form of technology and looking happy while admiring his flourishing fields?
Since the time I can think of, Indian agriculture has been depicted as a sector in rather sad state of affairs- farmers using ploughs driven by bullocks; women manually cutting the harvest; old farmers looking at the sky waiting for monsoons. While the reality of the situation cannot and should not be ignored, we are in the 21st century, and young, dynamic individuals can be encouraged to bring positive disruption in agriculture. For that, depicting agriculture in this sad state, time and again, can be highly frustrating to those who have been witness to the benefits of innovation in this sector. In an age where technology has taken us to the moon, no matter how clichéd it may sound, it fails me why technology hasn’t made the cut in agriculture.
I was talking to the friends of my children, all young college going and dynamic students, but none who want to be a farmer, including those whose parents were born and brought up in a village. Everyone I have met has the ‘city dream’, probably a fault of ours who have glorified the city beyond means. If we had positioned food and agriculture as an evergreen industry, the perceptions perhaps would have been different. Instead we choose to continue being an economy where owning a tractor or having a tubewell is a sign of being a rich farmer, and not a norm.
When India wants to move towards 2050 with the millenials, and proving it’s worth in all sectors, against the developed countries, we still continue to be a nation where 50% of population is engaged in farming but yet considered, for lack of better word, ‘cool’.
Instead, if we encourage precision farming- because it is amazing how much one can do if technology is leveraged, we can certainly bring back the youth into agriculture, and make it one of the most progressive sectors. Through positive disruption, such as using drones to assess geographical conditions to predicting the climate conditions, using optimum resources, and better seeds, precision farming can bring the stability agriculture lacks right now.
As someone who has been speaking to students across India, I do see the potential for collaborative work between companies, scientists, students, policy makers and government, to bring in the technical know-how and understanding. By giving the farmers, access to technologies so that they can become self sustainable, we will be able to create a huge opportunity for youth to expedite and facilitate this transition.
There is a need to genuinely work together to bring technology- especially components of precision farming to agriculture and make a sustainable impact. Instead of subsidizing let us work together to empower the farmers to earn and own these technologies.
As the next gen stepping into the corporate world- I hope we all can play a role in bringing that exposure to villages through initiatives, companies, NGOs, startups and any other tool, to identify opportunities and make a difference!
The future maybe ahead of us, but it is something we need to start preparing for- now.
-Kaustubh Joshi, EXIM, Mahyco