India is growing at a fast pace and it needs to adapt to new technologies. However, farmers, who make up nearly 58 per cent of the country’s population, are still struggling to meet ends owing to unpredictable monsoon, poor infrastructure, the need for skilled labour, quality of soil and seeds, and low use of farm technologies. Their entire livelihood depends on agriculture and the majority of them still depend on traditional farming techniques.
According to the World Economic Forum, the global population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 and by then, the need for food will be 60 per cent higher than it is today. At the current rate of ecological degradation, there will not be enough arable land left to meet this demand, leading to a food security crisis and sustainability issues.
Due to the ever-increasing global food demand, farmers require to adopt methods that will help them to maximize their yield. To cultivate more food in less space, growers need a new farming approach and processes.
Agtech, the blend of agriculture and technology, is a modern way used to increase yield, quality and profitability. In contemporary times, the agtech market is flourishing, and contributing to shaping the future of the agriculture industry.
Food production, transport, processing and waste are placing enormous pressure on environmental resources. Through smart farming solutions like hydroponic, remote farming, genetic modifications, aerial farming, vertical farming, drone technology, etc., crops are modified in such a way that they can grow in any condition, resulting in a better harvest. These next-generation techniques can redesign the farming experience and help growers meet the demands of green and healthy vegetables for the growing population.
Revamped agricultural techniques can aid in producing healthier, fresh and more nutritious food having longer shelf life, thereby creating healthier ecosystem. Inclusion of technology in agriculture helps avoid wastage of water and land while providing the farmers with climate-controlled greenhouses to optimise crop production and crop quality throughout the year. The said technologies help farmers to produce food without the use of any harmful chemicals and the yield is also 100 per cent residue free.
Through new farming techniques, farmers can now use smart cameras for real-time pest detection and take action without affecting the crops. The use of thermal cameras helps farmers in determining and regulating the increase in temperature and water stress condition of crops.
Each smart farm gets the expertise of Chief Technology Officer, a dedicated R&D team, plant scientists, microbiologists, mechanical engineers, and design engineers. All the experienced professionals come together to grow sustainable, safer and better-tasting greens.
Smart farms use vertically stacked growing beds and less than 1 per cent of the space, which is precious in densely populated urban areas. Compared to conventional farming, smart farms use 90 per cent less water. Since most farms are located within city limits, the average distribution time from harvest to table averages 60 minutes, cutting down greenhouse gas-emitting travel time. Smart farms promise consistent pricing since the produce can be grown indoors, all year long. While traditional farming takes 45-60 days - from growing seeds to harvesting - smart farming does that in only 25 days.
AI, data analytics
In future, smart farms will use optimized dehumidification techniques to extract and condense moisture in the air to produce water from air that will be used in hydroponic closed loop. On top of it, the electricity for the farm will be generated by solar. The entire farm in future can generate zero carbon emission and hence will be one of the best examples of sustainability farming in the world.
Moreover, the devastating aftermath of the pandemic should be a catalyst for us to expand our knowledge and awareness and contribute to building a more efficient and sustainable food system. Transforming India’s food system is key to attaining zero-hunger goal, and the progressive agtech industry sure looks promising.
Agtech’s usage of IoT, AI and data analytics help farmers measure important indicators that help in crop planning that enhances food security. Agricultural technology allows growers to increase performance while lowering costs at the same time. The expanding agtech market can prove to be a saviour for the country’s suffering farmers. Smart techniques can help the retailers, exporters and farmers to contribute to India’s GDP more than ever before. Healthy farming will lead to healthy produce that in turn will lead to a healthy lifestyle.
(The author is Founder and CEO, Barton Breeze)