An Indian farmer today battles with a web of variability during farming. Unlike traditional business, farming is done in open environment where farmers have to fight with many known and unknown challenges in getting a healthier crop.
A farmer might have done everything right, they might have used the best seeds, good inputs and might have followed all the good package of practices. But a factor called weather can completely collapse their crop and push their family to crooks of the financial crisis.
Even today with so much advancement in technology an Indian farmer has to depend on a good monsoon for better cultivation. But, with the current scenario of climate change and global warming we might suffer the poorest scarcities with a shortage of water and less productivity.
With Interlinking of Indian Rivers a dream project which has the potential to bring water to 100% of the fields. The question here is, are there any other ways in which this worst situation of drought or weather vagaries can be tackled in agriculture? The answer is right away yes.
Technology to solve weather vagaries in farming is already available and countries like Israel and USA are perfect examples. Israel as only 2% water cover (India 9.5%), soil is classified as dessert silt and temperature rises up to >55 degree Celsius, but still, the country is one of the world’s highest in productivity in Fruits and Vegetables. All this is happening due to the technological introduction in farming.
India by following the footsteps of countries like Israel and US can completely change the way farming is done. The simple resolution here is to adopt technologies from these countries and start-ups have huge potential to garner large gold in this space. That is converting adversities in Indian Farming to Opportunities for Business to grow.
Here are few areas which can be engrossed by aspiring startups in agri field to enhance the resilience of Indian farming to cope with climate variability and climate change.
Protected farming technology using the greenhouse and shade nets
The “Climate Smart technology” aims at protected cultivation techniques wherein the micro climate is controlled partially or fully as per the requirement of crop.
This technique of growing vegetables reduces reliance on rainfall and makes the optimum use of land and water resources. Greenhouse technology of producing vegetables like Capsicum, Cucumber, Tomato’s and Chilli have proven to produce double the productivity when compared to open field cultivation.
The National Horticulture Mission (Government of India) is promoting this technology with subsidy varying from 20% to 50% for farmers. A Public Private Partnership Model with farmers & Government is a huge opportunity for start-ups to put their money and resources.
Soil Moisture sensors giving real-time data on soil status
Anything and everything that is grown in India is through soil. The hard fact is that Indian farmers are not aware of their soil status in terms of nutrients and moisture content and still there is no device introduced which a farmer can use by himself.
A technological intervention which can provide soil status to farmers can largely reduce fertilizer consumption and help in improving farm productivity.
Smart farming technologies that persist any natural threat – Hydroponics a sophisticated technology that grows plants without soil is still nascent in India. A technological collaboration with the western world on introducing Hydroponics farming can be a real game changer.
Start-ups in the field of agriculture have started creating disruption in using mobile technology, tablets and even connecting farm products to consumers directly. A big push and investment in the field of adversities in farming by technological collaboration can make entire Indian farming resilient to weather vagaries and can be the best business growth area.
In Israel and USA start-ups have taken climatic smart farming as their core business models and are converting challenges into business opportunity. Below are some example of companies in these countries working in agritech space.
• Teshuva Agricultural Projects (TAP, Israel) is a new organization which is works on producing leafy vegetables in protected greenhouses. The company focuses on producing pesticide free product as the demand for food safe product is the need of the hour.
• Soil IQ is an interesting start-up which supplies next generation soil sensors powered by solar panels. The technology uses IOT in sending real-time soil status on to cloud to monitor the soil moisture, nutrient content and many more aspects.
• Farm from Box is an innovative start-up based out of California, which focuses on introducing integrated farming system approach for smallholder farmers. The technology they offer is a self-assembly set up for 2-acre farm to grow vegetables and other crops. The system comes with an integrated set up of an irrigation system, solar panel, farming tools and other precision farming equipment.