Transforming agriculture sector in 2018!

The government cannot let agriculture lag behind in technology adoption if it wants to achieve its goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022, writes Hanmantrao Gaikwad, CMD, BVG Life Sciences

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From being an agrarian economy, India made a quick shift to the services sector where a large base of young workers migrated from agriculture to the tertiary sector. Today agriculture (and allied sectors) contributes around 17% to India’s GDP but employs over half of the Indian workforce at 56%. So we can easily imply that agriculture currently is not as remunerative as the services sector is.

However, I see that changing in 2018, particularly with the renewed focus of the government on agriculture and allied sectors, mainly dairy. The government has ambitious plans to double the incomes of farmers by 2022, and a further policy impetus for companies contributing their bit to this ambition will not only help the government achieve its target but also help the sector self-sustain itself in the long run.

Agri-tech is going to be a major contributor to making agriculture more remunerative in the coming year, and that will also contribute to bringing in the much-needed glamour to agriculture. This includes high-quality inputs, linkages farmers and markets, eliminating poisonous farm inputs like chemical pesticides, making farm harvests more nutritious, and many others. Similar, we would see a greater focus on investments and innovations in the agriculture and dairy sector. Many start-ups, venture funds, impact investors etc are working to connect all the missing pieces in this large jigsaw of agriculture.

“Agri-tech is going to be a major contributor to making agriculture more remunerative in the coming year, and that will also contribute to bringing in the much-needed glamour to agriculture”

Another shift in agriculture would come in cultivation practices, thanks to changing customer preferences. Many countries, as well as states in India like Sikkim, are realizing the harmful effects of chemical pesticides and banning them in favor of turning organic. The large number deaths of farmers and farm laborers in Maharashtra, the alarming number of cancer patients in Punjab and other states, are now serving as a wake-up call for governments to ban chemical pesticides and find alternative organic substitutes. We are also contributing our bit by giving safe, herbal, nano-tech products for crop care and animal care products that eliminates need for chemical-based products, while also increasing production and productivity!

Dairy is one allied sector of agriculture that has potential to drive India’s rural economy that is currently under stress. This also impacting total aggregate demand, given that rural India drives 47% of it. A lot needs to be done in the dairy sector, primarily on increasing the productivity of milch animals. India has the largest number of milch animals, the highest amount of milk production in the world, but has the lowest productivity at 1000 liters per year per animal, against the global best of 12000 liters. India needs technologies to increase milk production without the need for chemical interventions.

Companies like Livestock and Crop Registry India Limited are using DNA analysis to help farmers identify yield potential and feed needs in milch animals at an early age, thus reducing the cost of ownership and maintenance. Similar services and technological innovations will be needed by the dairy sector. The importance of the dairy sector can also be gauged from the fact that no farmer suicides are seen in areas wherever agriculture is supported by dairy.

Digitization and technology adoption has almost become a norm in many industries and soon agriculture would also adopt it. This will drive further change in the sector. The government cannot let agriculture lag behind in technology adoption if it wants to achieve its goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022. I am upbeat that the government will give a red carpet welcome to companies who contribute to this Mission 2022.

About Author: Mr Hanmantrao Gaikwad is the Founder Chairman and Managing Director of India’s largest Integrated Services Company, Bharat Vikas Group (BVG) India. Mr Gaikwad is a member of the Board of Trustees at the Science and Technology Innovation Park, Government of India, CII National Committee on Skill Development and CII WR Sub-Committee on Skill Development.

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