Guest Article

Cloud Blessings for Indian Agriculture

Piyush Somani, MD & Chairman, ESDS Software Solution Ltd.

In the last two financial years, the statistics of the Indian economy have highlighted the importance of the Indian Agriculture sector. When everything else was in the doldrums, the agriculture sector registered a growth of 3.5 percent in 2020-21, supporting the Indian economy (Nabard). However, even if the picture looks good on the statistical front, there are specific facts that primarily we still, as an agro-based economy, must focus on. India’s agriculture industry has recently been affected by land loss and biodiversity loss worldwide. In addition to what has already been stated, unfavorable weather patterns brought on by climatic changes and an increase in the world’s population competing for limited resources are a clear image of the future. Information and communication technology (ICT), which promotes smart agriculture, must be introduced to comprehend the trend of issues facing the agricultural sector. Giving the farmers knowledge about the characteristics of their farmland, their local climate, better access to natural resources, improved agricultural technologies, efficient production techniques, markets, banking, financial services, etc., aid in their empowerment. The key disadvantage is the high investment cost for ICT infrastructure upkeep. We must obtain, process, and store data to learn about the nature of farmland, its nutrient content, appropriate crops, etc. Finding a dependable, quicker, more efficient, and less expensive ICT tool for this industry is, therefore, a top priority for information technicians. The best feasible solution to this is Cloud Computing. Users can access services like real-time computing, data access, and storage for end users without being aware of the physical location or system configuration that provides those services.

The way to implement

By 2050, India must boost its food output by up 40% of India to feed the expanding population. If we discuss its nutrient composition, handling that becomes even more challenging. In the opinion of agricultural researchers, data-driven agriculture is an appropriate option in that case. It is the capacity to map every farm on Earth and connect a large amount of data. Farming land, crops, climatic circumstances, financial resources, irrigation facilities, and other information and services that can help farmers increase crop production are needed. What, for instance, is the soil moisture content of my farm 5 inches below the surface? What is the overall moisture content of my farm’s soil? Which crop would work best with it? Etc. Therefore, gathering data is essential to achieving our farming goals. However, researchers claim that farmers, especially small-holder farmers, are discouraged from utilizing data-driven agriculture because of the high cost of data collecting. There is no way for them to test their soil, learn about resource availability, understand market demand, or discover other ways to boost production, etc. Cloud computing is the workable solution to these issues. Agricultural field images and observations from individuals involved on the ground precisely supplying massive data along with their GPS coordinates are all made possible by real-time Software as a Service (SaaS) applications for using cloud computing. These applications include sensors and monitoring tools that collect soil data, agricultural field images, and observations. As an illustration, sensors can now locate even a bale of hay in a field and determine how much moisture it contains.

Cloud computing can be employed in conjunction with AI and IoT to make farming even smarter. For example, there are worries about the sustainability of agriculture, especially projected water scarcity by 2030. Japan has created a digital farming technique to address this problem. Thanks to their knowledge and experience, seasoned farmers know how to use water and fertilizers more effectively. Even unskilled growers may use these strategies thanks to IoT and AI technology to collect and analyze data from their farming practices, repost it into the cloud, and make it available to all farmers. Even in places with little access to water, it increased agricultural productivity.

We still doubt the practical benefit of Cloud Computing to small-scale or even marginal farmers in India. However, It has already been put into practice, albeit on a modest scale, and its goals have been met. Africa is a region with challenging growing conditions for farmers. The most crucial requirement for irrigation is water. Imagine a state like Tanzania where there is a water shortage and farmers are forced to irrigate their crops with the limited water available. They are forced to perform irrigation because agriculture is their primary source of revenue. It was even more challenging because they could not afford to install borewells in their agricultural areas. However, unexpectedly, a little digital device that measures the moisture in the soil caused them to use the water in the proper amount and location rather than spreading water throughout the field, which resulted in a significant amount of water being saved. They came to see the advantages of integrating technology into conventional farming. A small team of workers examined most farmers in Tanzania who had their farms. The findings were uploaded to the cloud so that each farmer could access the data via mobile devices and learn things like their farmland’s moisture and nutritional content.

Leading Indian agriculture toward digital farming will require cloud, IoT, and AI. The general economic growth of the country will undoubtedly benefit from this. Above all, cloud computing is no longer a relatively new idea, and most emerging countries are not eager to accept and apply it. Therefore, it requires widespread promotion and awareness among the key players in order to realise its full potential and provide a solid knowledge foundation for the country. This will result in a well-connected in turn.

By Piyush Somani, MD & Chairman, ESDS Software Solution Ltd.

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