AI-powered agriculture: Govt uses Artificial Intelligence to boost farming

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Published: July 26, 2019 10:55:48 PM

PMFBY: Govt has started using Artificial Intelligence (AI) on pilot basis for estimation of crop cutting and other things under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.

Agiculture, Farming, Artificial Intelligence, PM ModiThe govt has started using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the agriculture sector.

Artificial Intelligence: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has begun the use of Artificial Intelligence on pilot basis for crop cutting and yield estimation under its flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yoajana. The move is aimed at cutting down the cost of farming while increasing productivity. It is also aimed at ensuring better prices for farmers. The government said this cutting edge technology can be leveraged in providing information and advisory services to farmers which will help in increasing productivity.

Talking about the government’s initiative to use Artificial Intelligence in farming, Narendra Singh Tomar, agriculture and farmers welfare minister said: “AI can be used in multiple domains of agriculture such as weather, crop and price forecasting, and yield estimation.”

“Under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the government has carried out many pilot studies for optimization of crop cutting experiments, in which AI was used to optimization and yield estimation,” said the minister.

It’s a significant departure from the traditional farming practiced in the country since ages that has resulted in low yields and excessive dependency on monsoon rains which has kept Indian farming at subsistence level. And failure of monsoon in the country has often resulted in failure of farming and suicides of farmers. But the use of cutting edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence may help Indian farmers to choose the right crop and minimise the risks.

In February 2016, Prime Minister Modi launched Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme called Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. Under the scheme, comprehensive coverage is provided to farmers against the failure of crops. The scheme covers sowing, germination risks, loss of standing crop, post-harvest loss, localised calamities and an addon coverage for loss of crop due to attack by wild animals. Several agencies were involved in these pilot projects by using Artificial Intelligence for crop cutting estimation under the PMFBY scheme.

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Indian agriculture has historically relied upon traditional methods that resulted in low yield and crop failures. In recent times, the government has taken several steps to encourage the use of modern technologies to increase the farmers’ income. Prime Minister Modi launched a series of schemes to introduce modern techniques in farming including the issue of soil health cards and assistance for the adoption of modern irrigation techniques. All these initiatives are aimed at doubling the farmer’s income by 2022.

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“It (Artificial Intelligence) may reduce the cost of production through precise application of agricultural inputs like fertilizer, chemicals, irrigation, etc,” said the agriculture minister.

Agriculture may appear an unlikely field for the use of Artificial Intelligence. However, Indian farmers have started using digital tools to decide which crop to grow and also for selecting pesticides and fertilisers. Several Indian start-ups are also engaged in developing technologies that will be used by farmers to improve their productivity.

According to a report prepared by Hong Kong-based Hinrich Foundation, Alpha-Beta advisors and All India Management Association (AIMA) on India’s digital trade potential, farming sector will be one of the top three sectors that will drive the growth of digital industry in the country.

According to the report, benefits to Indian economy from digital trade has a potential to grow to over $500 billion by 2030 from present $35 billion and agriculture is one of the three sectors that will drive this growth.

“Three sectors that will fuel this growth are agriculture, financial services, and infrastructure,” Berenice Voets, Director of Public Affairs and Communications of Hinrich Foundation, told Financial Express Online.

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