CXO Bytes

How can technology boost the agricultural economy?


Agriculture remains the centrepiece of our sustenance, our economies, and for the millions of lives across the globe. While technology reshaped our world in the last few decades, the next few will be defined by climate shift. And, agriculture & its practices will be at the center of it all to determine how we adapt to climate change & determine what kind of a world we will be living in.

More than 45% of the world’s population is dependent on agriculture. Out of these, about 470 million farms are owned by smallholder farmers. These farmers face several challenges like – access to capital, lack of skill to use technology or are unaware of the solutions available to help them farm better and drive profitability. Climate change is already impacting yield, and maize crop yields are projected to decline by 24% by 2030. It’s a similar scenario for most other crops, eventually leading to food insecurity, hunger, and death.

Leveraging technology innovations to maximize farm productivity and drive digital transformation to build a sustainable ag-ecosystem is our only way forward.


Farm mechanization

Farmers used manual tools to accomplish tasks like planting, irrigation, and cultivation. Though these tools & processes were effective, they lacked accuracy and intelligence around weather, crop, soil etc., and led to unnecessary crop losses.

By leveraging farm mechanisation, the process of cultivation & harvesting can be made more efficient, precise, and quick. Farm mechanisation eliminates human errors, reduces labour costs, and improves acreage. Mechanisation has taken a giant leap in terms of machines & equipment available to deliver precision agriculture at scale. Drones are used to survey the fields and monitor crop health, spray fertilisers & pesticides, and capture images & data points to analyse acreage & farm productivity.  Sensors & digital imaging equipment help capture vegetation indices, soil moisture content, leaf surface area, and much more. Overall, farm mechanisation on the back of mechanised equipment like Drones, Harvesters, Boom Sprayers etc. help farmers reduce input costs and labour costs, offer real-time insights from the field and help improve their farm profitability. It is no longer capital intensive. Organizations are delivering it as a service to drive adoption, making it accessible for all.


Data driven smart decisions

Data & Analytical intelligence has had a tremendous impact on nearly every industry, and agriculture should be no exception. In the context of agriculture, data driven insights can help adopt right practices, making agriculture sustainable, viable, and productive.

Today, farm information is easily accessible using IoT devices, sensors, satellite imaging, drones and other technological advancements that we have made over the last decade. When we analyze these multiple data points captured via different sources, we can predict & offer yield estimates, harvest date insights, pests & disease alerts, and crops acreage insights in real-time. We can use the information to learn about soil quality, crop selection, risk mitigation, weather prediction, and farm advisory. Data empowers farmers to be more efficient, informed, and helps them make better decisions about sowing, cultivating, harvesting, and selling their produce.


Artificial Intelligence

Most artificial intelligence & machine learning (AI & ML) models need training. For AI & ML to deliver accuracy, billions of data sets must be organised, analyzed, and dissected for different crop varieties, weather conditions, and soil types. Farm digitization and remote sensing technologies are helping with data collection & algorithms designed on top of these data sets are used to leverage the power of AI for forecasting yields, risk mitigation, and delivering real-time business insights to the growers & farmers alike.

Decisions about seed densities and fertilizer requirements for different patches of land and data about production and sale can be stored, analyzed, and used to make predictions. Farmer credit scores can be analyzed using AI, leading to easy accessibility to capital. Government organisations and insurance companies can cover unprecedented risks & fast-track disbursals by adjusting insurance premiums in real-time. All of these interventions are helping farmers become more resilient & agricultural ecosystems sustainable & viable.


Geospatial Imaging

In the simplest terms, geospatial imagery encompasses a wide range of graphical products that convey information about natural phenomena and human activities on the Earth’s surface. Geospatial Imagery works on the reflection & refraction that occurs based on the vegetation grown on the land. By measuring the bandwidths of the light refracted back, one can ascertain crop type, land usage information, identify water bodies, and more. When we add a layer of AI & ML to these data sets, we monitor crop health throughout its life cycle stages and can identify fertility, pests & disease attacks; use of inputs & acreage in real-time, making agriculture predictable & intelligent.



It’s quite clear that technology has to lead the way to make farming sustainable and profitable. We have taken a giant leap in building technologies that can help solve the issues across the agri-value chain, covering pre-sowing, sowing, cultivation, harvest, and post-harvest stages. Now is the time to build a digital-first agriculture ecosystem. The various agri-stakeholders – leading organizations, government bodies, private entities, new-age startups – need to collaborate and build an ecosystem that can educate, train, and scale efforts to to truly disrupt the agriculture industry & make it sustainable.


(The author is Mr. Pranav Tiwari, CTO at and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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