Loan waivers by central and state government will save Indian farmers once but in the long term farmers needs to invest in technology if they are looking at doubling their farm income.
The recent study conducted by NGO EAT and Lancet, the medical journal was to understand how to provide a growing population of 10 billion people globally (by 2050) a nutritious and sustainable diet. Based on the input from 37 experts from 16 countries, including India, the commission concluded that this is impossible without transforming food habits, improving food production and reducing food waste. And India badly needs technology intervention in two parameters like improving food production as well as reducing food waste.
Let’s look at some of the global indexes to understand where does India figure and how these indexes can be changed over a period of time. India is ranked 76th on Global Food Security Index among 113 countries with a score of 50.1 and the No. 1 country is Singapore with a score of 85.9.
India’s score has declined by 0.8 in 2018 and this shows food security is all the more important for a country like India which is the fastest growing economy in the world. And this is only possible through technology both in pre-sowing, during sowing and post-harvesting of crops.
In 2018 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 103rd out of 119 qualifying countries. With a score of 31.1, India suffers from a level of hunger that is serious. Let’s look at some of the indicators from the study: Under five mortality rate is 5%; Prevalence of stunting in children under five years is 38%; prevalence of wasting in children under five years is 21%; and Proportion of undernourished in the population is 15%. As per experts, over 300,000 children die every year in India because of hunger.
This shows that distribution is a problem and whatever we are producing is not enough though we are No. 2 in rice, wheat, fruit and vegetables so we need to increase our yield through precision farming with the use of new technologies like drip irrigation, poly farming and drone.
According to National Horticulture Board Annual Report 2017-18, India is the 2nd largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, producing 97 million metric tonnes of fruits and 179.69 million metric tonnes of vegetables. Around 40 percent of vegetables are wasted so we need technology for storage and processing of vegetables in small towns and cities.
We need to start with National Crop Planning Commission whose objective would be to plan what is the total requirement of cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables in India as well as for the exports. Once the figure is finalised, then depending upon soil type, climate, ground water and other parameters they can draw a map of India which can depict which region can go for which crop and why using Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud and Analytics.
Technology will be used in all aspects say yield prediction, soil testing, irrigation, mechanisation, post harvest storage and post harvest processing in a big way. Government both central and state government should support farmers in investing in new technologies so that one can increase the yield with the use of new technologies like Satellite Imagery, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud and Drone. Even startups should work big way in the agritech sector so that it benefits small and marginal farmers and not only large farmers which is presently the trend.
Keeping all the above views into consideration, India can solve its own problem as well global hunger problem as India has the second largest arable land with 160 million hectares and second largest irrigated farm lands with 68 million hectares. And if we are able to increase our yield by 75-100% we can be the food bowl for the world.