Agriculture 2.0: Power of cloud technologies in modern farming

The agricultural sector, the backbone of the Indian economy, has shown remarkable resilience, significantly aiding the nation’s economic recovery despite challenges like the global health crisis and climate variability.

With rising demands for food production and increasing exports cloud-based technologies could play a crucial role in boosting agricultural output and offering various solutions to farmers. This article explores how adoption of these solutions can support farmers and enhance the overall agricultural economy.

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Rising food demands have compelled farmers to develop new and efficient methods to boost output and efficiency. Consequently, agricultural technology, or agritech, has emerged as a solution for farmers to overcome various operational challenges. Despite the Government of India’s commitment to addressing the issues faced by farmers through various policies aimed at increasing production and exports, technological advancements and the digitization of Indian farms are crucial for realizing the sector’s full potential.

According to an analysis by McKinsey, enhancing IT infrastructure and successfully implementing agricultural connectivity could contribute an additional US$ 500 billion to the global gross domestic product by 2030. This increase would represent a 7-9% boost over the projected total, significantly alleviating the current pressures on farmers. Furthermore, with advanced connectivity, the sector is expected to add US$ 2-3 trillion to the global GDP over the next decade.

To mechanize, digitize and foster agriculture output, the Government of India took several steps:

  • Introduced e-NAM (National Agriculture Market) in 2016 to facilitate online trading of 209 agriculture and horticulture commodities.
  • Provided financial assistance at 100% of the drone cost and contingent expenditure for demonstrations on farmer’s fields.
  • Created Agri Stack, a federated architecture for effective planning, monitoring, policy-making, strategy formulation and implementation of schemes.

To elevate and propel the agriculture sector to new heights, it is essential to introduce and utilize cutting-edge technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, Big Data and machine learning to mechanize and simplify farming.

Why cloud computing?

Cloud computing is a modern IT model where users can access shared pools of customizable system resources via the internet. It’s evolving into a commercial infrastructure that removes the necessity of maintaining costly computing hardware, software, IT staff, and infrastructure, along with their upkeep.

It enables users to access real-time computation, data, and storage without needing to concern themselves with the physical location or setup of the system providing these services.

Cloud computing is playing a vital role in collecting, analyzing, and storing agricultural data. Wireless sensors connected to the cloud gather field data, which is then analyzed in real-time by machine learning algorithms, providing farmers with insights into crop performance. These sensors monitor soil moisture, pH levels, protein content, nutrient levels, and temperature, aiding in informed decision-making.

As farming faces growing demands and numerous disruptive forces—such as land and input constraints, rising costs, and the need for enhanced sustainability and resilience—cloud-based solutions offer a promising way to tackle these challenges and enhance farm productivity.

Emphasizing on the need to introduce cloud based solutions in farming, Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO of Cropin says:

“Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity is crucial for addressing global challenges in agriculture and food systems. Digital transformation will be a key enabler, enhancing rural economies, boosting food security, reducing poverty, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, and curbing biodiversity loss.

An intelligent agriculture cloud can provide revolutionary powers to each stakeholder in the Agri-ecosystem by providing multiple modern technologies such as earth observation sciences, data sciences, cloud/weather data, agronomical sciences and precision agriculture to improve food safety and production.”

Below are some applications where cloud computing can significantly benefit farmers:

  • Crop information: The system captures information related to all crops grown in the recent past, helping farmers make decisions on what to grow next. It can also store region specific weather information and forecast for specific durations, helping farmers make crop-related decisions.
  • Low-cost access: Cloud solutions operate on a pay-per-use model, meaning farmers only pay for the resources they actually use.
  • Soil Information: It provides trend of soil health in past which helps in predicting the trend in future. For instance, is the soil turning acidic/alkaline, or any other changes in composition of soil can be seen?
  • Cloud Agro System: This system is utilized to monitor comprehensive agricultural information. The data stored in the cloud can be presented to farmers in their native language, aiding them in making informed decisions about crop production based on market demand and supply.
  • Farmer’s Data: It can provide region-wise farmer data, monitor and study the involvement of local farmers. This can help in identifying core agricultural areas which are helpful for policymakers while framing their strategies.
  • E-commerce: As farmers are unable to sell their produce directly to the market, through agricultural management information system of cloud computing, farmers can sell their produce directly to the end users or retailers.

Today, India boasts several agritech companies that leverage technology to make farming more efficient and sustainable. These companies provide solutions to help farmers manage their crops, optimize yields, and improve profitability through innovative services like precision farming and farm management software.

For instance, Absolute, a pioneering bioscience company, specializes in precision agriculture solutions utilizing phytology, microbiology, and AI technology. AgNext Technologies is another prominent agritech enterprise focusing on deep-tech-based food quality assessment, monitoring, and management solutions.

DeHaat aims to empower farmers by offering a wide range of services such as quality agri-inputs, advisory services, market linkages, and financial products through a digital platform. Companies like Ninjacart have developed tech-driven platforms that connect farmers directly with retailers, eliminating intermediaries and ensuring fresh produce reaches the market at competitive prices.

Cloud-based solutions offer cost-effective, real-time access to critical data and insights, empowering farmers to make informed decisions. By embracing these cutting-edge technologies, India can further enhance agricultural productivity, sustainability, and resilience, ensuring continued economic recovery and growth.

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