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Agritech and the future of farming
In his book on Agritech and the Future of Farming – the author defines Agritech in a very broad way to include best practices, modern methods, new business models and technology. He takes a clear view that even a small or marginal farmer can benefit from these and improve his earnings materially on a sustained basis.
While technology itself includes all the data, software, hardware and machines like drones, sensors, cameras, automation and robotics, best practices could be just things like soil testing and good crop choice. Modern methods could include techniques like using better seeds, raised bed farming or mulching. New business models encompass selling on e-NAM, coming together through FPOs and being open to leasing in land to get benefits of economies of scale.
Sujit Sahgal also brings the issues of demographic change and hence the pressing need to attract or retain the rural youth in farming centrestage in his book. He picks two key issues among the several reasons why the youth does not want to stay on the farm. He feels that improving the amount and predictability of returns from farming and reducing the physical effort is one critical change needed. The second is the social acceptance of farming. He argues that both these issues can be well addressed by adopting agritech.
“I was clear about two things — the book had to appeal to the wider public and be primary research driven. It had to be a ground up view coming from the farmer himself. Hence the idea was to visit farmers, gauge how much he already knows, how able and willing he is to adopt new methods and technologies. What does he need? At what price point? One could then understand the low hanging fruit and suggest a path to achieve rapid adoption of high impact benefits” says the author.
To immerse the reader in his thought process, Sujit starts every chapter with a real-life story of a farmer or related person he met. In fact some chapters have more than one and the appendix of the book contains several more such ground up stories. Overall, there are about 30 plus real-life stories of farmers from across the country with different sizes of farms and levels of prosperity and income. This brings to life the points the author makes and takes the reader on a virtual tour with across the heartlands and farmlands of India.
The author has tried to use all the bottom up and top down research to arrive at areas that the government and agribusinesses should focus on. Areas where the farmer struggles the most and can see quick and high impact. Education, Information and Advisory is one such area. Help in offtake solutions is another. Crop selection and multi-cropping is a third.
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