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WEF to focus on innovative technology to assist small and marginal farmers

The World Economic Forum (WEF), in collaboration with the government’s research institute Niti Aayog, is focusing on how to better employ emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and drones to aid farmers, especially small and marginal farmers.

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KEY POINTS:

  • Agriculture is an important part of the Indian economy, employing 43 percent of the country’s workers.
  • Small holders, who account for 86 percent of all farmers in India and own less than 2 hectares of land (compared to 2-10 hectares for medium holders and more than 10 hectares for large holders), are still among the poorest people in the country, earning only 39 percent of what medium holders earn and only 13 percent of what large holders earn.
  • Due to insufficient transparency of demand, exploitative intermediation, inadequate quality assurance, inadequate access to efficient and low-cost logistics, and little bargaining power, smallholder farmers are typically unable to obtain equivalent value for their produce.
  • Improved value capture and total value production in the agricultural environment are required to increase farmer incomes. Technology has the potential to quickly develop and iterate solutions, reduce costs, improve information flow transparency, and boost connectivity across value chain actors.
  • Given the importance of agriculture in the Indian economy and farmers’ chronic economic disadvantage, there is a pressing need to address difficulties in the farmgate-to-fork (F2F) ecosystem and making agriculture more profitable for farmers.

Solution according to WEF:

In India, a plethora of high-potential innovations have arisen to solve these issues, with some proving proof of concept. India is well positioned to scale up these technologies. India’s rapidly evolving agricultural technology landscape reflects innovators, investors, and adopters who can develop, test, and adopt solutions at scale, with 560 million internet users (50 percent in rural areas), high smartphone penetration, and an AI market valued at $6.4 billion (16 percent of the global AI market).

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