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CSR: How IT Can Help Develop Sustainable Agriculture

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Agriculture is still the largest source of livelihood among the majority of people in rural India. Thus, if the country has to grow, it is important to uplift the agriculture sector of the country.

Acknowledging the need to develop the sector, the government of India had kept agriculture as its core of the Union Budget 2019-20. The Government of India has planned to invest widely in agriculture infrastructure to provide assured income to small and marginal farmers. It has made Niti Aayog a national think tank to establish and conduct programmes and research on technologies of the future namely, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to facilitate the economic development of our country.

In a research, conducted in China in 2013 on agriculture-based on cloud computing and IoT (Internet of Things), the integration of IoT in farming mainly facilitated soilless culture, solution control technology, artificial photosynthesis technology, growing environment control technology (carbon dioxide density, humidity, wind pressure and speed) and intelligent irrigation technology.

In fact, the agriculture sector, has, in recent times visualised the integration of IoT and farming practices in development and conceptualisation of plant factory technology. For example, a lighting sensor and a video sensor can show the distribution of the intensity of light in real-time and monitor the size of the plant. This would help determine the stage of the plant growth.

The health condition of plants, thus, could be obtained in real-time by the spectral analysis of the images of the plant.

Data from the global positioning systems (GPS) and wireless sensor nodes (WSN) can serve as powerful monitoring tools to supervise parameters and correlate between them. Geo-referencing methods that employ the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and drones are observed to have a positive impact on crop cultivation and pesticide control.

Data stored in these sensors and farm equipment and machinery can be shared periodically to the farmers through a mobile phone connected to GPRS. The farmers can remotely monitor and control on-field sensors like switching on/off a pump/valve when the water level in the field reaches a specific threshold value or take important decisions with the help of deep learning algorithms involving crop management.

IT has far-fetching implications for the development of sustainable agriculture sector. And India is committed to tapping in its potential as an IT country to take complete advantage of it by making huge investments. It has also acknowledged the role of Information and Communication Technology in the newly established farmer producer organisations and the way it ensures to provide a conducive atmosphere between the central and state government enabling farmers to get a fair price for their produce and understand the ease of doing business.