A recent NITI Aayog report says that an average Indian farming family earns less than Rs 10,000 per month. And 22.5 percent of these families live below the poverty line. People in other professions earn an average of 3.12x more than farmers (who form 68 percent of the population). The need to improve farmers' income is an urgent need, and this is where technology can play an essential role when deployed appropriately.
Day 2 of the Bengaluru Tech Summit 2018 saw a panel discussed how to double farmer income through tech intervention at different stages of farming.
Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati described technology and access to markets as two sides of a coin when it comes to farming. He also said that a farmer should look at the price for tomorrow (and not yesterday) and then sow the seeds.
Suren Tikoo, Director Research - Breeding and Development of TIERRA Seed Research pointed out, "The technological improvement that has happened in the last few years has not entered the interiors. Food productivity has come from more lands and from yield gains."
Talking about market linkages, Manoj Rajan, IFS and MD of Rashtriya EMarket Services Pvt Ltd, said that the problem the market faces is that it is fragmented for a variety of reasons. This, in turn, has hampered farmers from getting the true price for their yields.
"A farmer doesn’t have an opportunity to decide when he has to go to the market and at what price he has to sell it," said Manoj.
The Government of Karnataka had initiated committee to look into solving this problem. This led to the creation of a national commodity exchange, or an agri-market exchange for the state of Karnataka, where anybody can bid from anywhere using the electronic platform. The platform also enables to test the quality of the commodity for the farmers and traders to understand and bid on a single online trading platform.
As lack of access to information is observed as a barrier to farmers, several agri-tech startups and institutions are coming up to help them in trading, marketing etc.and to make them aware of their opportunities while trading/ selling their commodities.
Senthilkumar Radhakrishnan, Academic Dean at the GPS Institute of Agricultural Management, said that his institution teaches BSc. Agriculture dropouts from farming families and helps them understand the matrix of agriculture and farming.
The panel also included Manav Garg, CEO and Founder of EKA software and K.K. Narayan, Chairman of Kottaram Agro Foods.