India, traditionally, has been an agrarian nation. We hold the record for the second largest agricultural land holding in the world! For centuries, our people – young and aged – have been producing a wide variety of agricultural crop, for a global population.
Yet, in modern times, agriculture as a career has lost much of its sheen. Today, the younger generation prefers to work in the city – away from the rural origins of their forefathers. They are opting for an education which paves the way to a corporate job – one which ensures a fixed and scalable income and lifestyle.
The notion in India is that agriculture is labour intensive, monsoon dependent and yields low profit to the farmer. Financial security, quality of life and the desire for progress are taking more and more youth away from agriculture. One of the reasons for this is perhaps the fact we have not been as quick as the developed nations to adapt cutting-edge technology to agriculture.
While this may be true to a large extent, today, more and more people are becoming aware of how technology can come to the rescue of the farmer. The world over, I see a slow but steady resurgence of interest in agriculture.
This is primarily because of growing concerns of food insecurity. In a few decades from now, the planet will have 2.3 billion more mouths to feed, bodies to clothe and people to house. The planet will be in need of an extra 120 million hectares of cultivated land, 11% growth in irrigation facilities, and 60% increase in investment in primary agriculture. All of this, to ensure a 70% increase in food supply to meet the demand for food and nutrition.
For the above to become a reality, the innovative use of technology is imperative.
India is a storehouse of knowledge in agriculture. When this knowledge is married with modern technology, we will have revolutionary solutions that could combat current day challenges faced by the farmer, and usher in rich harvests.
As I write this post, I wonder- What is the role of the ecosystem in driving these changes? How can we make agriculture more lucrative than it was before? Does the sector offer first mover advantage?
I leave you with these thoughts and questions, and will soon pen my next post with my thoughts on these questions, and share stories of few impressive startups who managed to pursue their agri-tech dreams.
– Vaishali Khanale, Scientist, Mahyco