India which currently hosts more than 450 start-ups in the agri-tech sector and every ninth start-up in the world in this field is originating from its soil, the nation has a humongous task at hand -- educating farmers in Machine Learning (ML)-powered Cloud technologies.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is retail behemoth Amazon's Cloud arm, is currently busy enabling precision agriculture capabilities in farmers in India to help them make informed decisions about the soil, pest infestation and diseases and no predictability of yield, thus extracting more from their farms.
Teresa Carlson, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, AWS, who met Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog last week, is keen to create smart farmers who form 70 per cent of the Indian population.
"I was ecstatic to see the level of energy and engagement in the government this time towards empowering farmers in new-age Cloud computing technologies and help local farming become a sustainable and profit-yielding enterprise," Carlson told IANS during her India visit last week.
"I belong to the farming community so understand how important it is to drive innovation and provide digital infrastructure to enable real-time access to farmers in India. I see several start-ups doing precision, smart farming in the country. They can utilize our ML-driven Cloud capabilities and scale to new levels," she elaborated.
Agri-tech start-ups in India received more than $248 million funding in the first half of 2019, a growth of 300 per cent as compared to the same period in the previous year, according to IT industry body Nasscom.
Growing at the rate of 25 per cent year-on-year, the country currently hosts more than 450 start-ups in the agritech sector, said the report titled "Agritech in India - Emerging Trends in 2019".
Take the example of CropIn -- an agriculture technology solutions start-up that is delivering future-ready farming solutions to the agricultural sector in 48 countries.
The start-up has touched the lives of nearly 2.1 million farmers and 70 per cent of those are in India.
"With capabilities of live reporting, analysis, interpretation and insight that span across geographies, we're digitizing every farm, while data-managing the entire ecosystem. Our smarter agri solutions are powered in real-time; for farmers to archive patterns, predict trends, to make a blueprint for their business in the times to come," Kunal Prasad, Co-Founder & COO, CropIn, told IANS.
The idea of providing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based services to agri-businesses came to Krishna Kumar, the Founder and CEO of CropIn, after observing the agrarian crisis looming large in the rural areas of Karnataka in 2010.
Kumar then set up CropIn that would address several pain points of millions of farmers across the country.
According to Carlson, the AWS Cloud is also enabling the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) to improve its IT operations efficiency, digitize agriculture across the country and empower farmers with e-commerce accessibility.
"IFFCO has improved its IT operations efficiency by 80 per cent with AWS, generating cost savings by 50 per cent. The next aim for us is to educate the farmers in Cloud-related information," said Carlson who reports directly to AWS CEO Andy Jassy.
One of India's biggest cooperative societies, the IFFCO is wholly-owned by Indian Cooperatives and has a vast marketing network of about 36,000 cooperative societies and 55 million farmers.
In India, new emerging areas like market linkage, digital agriculture, better access to inputs, function-as-a-service (FaaS) and financing are gaining traction.
With more and more local farmers accepting the innovative start-up solutions, there has been a considerable shift witnessed from B2C (business to consumer) to B2B (business to business) start-ups, said the Nasscom report.
It is estimated that by 2020, the agritech sector would be at the centre of innovation and will lead India's journey towards overall transformation.
For Carlson, this is so natural for India which is an agriculture-dominated country to infuse new-age technologies for smart, intelligent farming.
(Nishant Arora can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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