Use of AI, tech can address challenges in Indian agri sector: Report

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Mumbai, Jun 1 (PTI) Even as agriculture remains a priority sector accounting for the livelihoods of around 58 per cent of the country's population, adoption of technology in the sector is at a transitory juncture and faces several challenges across the value chain, according to a report.

Though agriculture in India is at a transitory juncture, with a focus on integration of technologies for better operations, the sector faces several challenges across the value chain, said a report by PwC and FICCI.

The report titled 'Redefining agriculture through artificial intelligence: Predicting the unpredictable' said that these challenges require disruptive interferences which can be provided by technological solutions.

The entire system needs to adapt to a holistic approach which can be built upon indigenous and traditional farming knowledge integrated with transformative smart farming practices, including adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools and techniques, it noted.

Adoption of AI technologies will pave the way for higher production with the optimum utilisation of available resources and facilitate predictive analysis, crop health management, enhance quality and traceability among others, it said.

The report further said that the adoption of innovative and transformative smart farming practices in the country is gradually becoming a major trend.

Smart and technology-driven resource management, modernisation of agri supply chains, climate risk mitigation strategy, digitising farm collectives as farmer producer organisations, emergence of a startup ecosystem and the government initiatives in digital farming are some of steps being taken to encourage smart farming practices, it added.

Globally technology advancements in recent years are re-engineering both the upstream and downstream segments of the agri value chain.

Cutting-edge technologies in AI such as IoT (Internet of Things), ML (Machine Learning), cloud computing, statistical computing, deep learning, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are enabling the sector to overcome the challenges of productivity, quality, traceability and carbon emission with enhanced profitability, the report added.

Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are being predominantly used in the agriculture sector.

The report said as the agriculture sector of the country develops further, the usage of drones in farming methods is predicted to grow with many startups investing in low-cost drones, which can support farmers, enhance their knowledge and generate employment for the rural youth.

It further said that the government is also enabling an institutional ecosystem for agritech startups through incubators.

It has adopted the theme of 'AI for all' and laid down broad recommendations for nurturing the AI ecosystem in India through the NITI Aayog.

Despite the progress in creating and nurturing an AI-enabled ecosystem, the agriculture sector faces a number of issues and challenges that need to be addressed for facilitating a smooth transition, it said.

The major challenges with the innovation and technology aspects of AI in the agriculture sector are limited pool of AI and sectoral expertise, existing gaps in public AI research, poor data quality and lack of access to data, lack of coordination and cross-border collaboration.

These challenges can be addressed through a '3S' strategy by employing the levers of Scale, Skill and Service to transform AI into agri intelligence, leading to widespread adoption of the technology in the ecosystem through the collaborative efforts of key actors as drivers of change, suggested the report. PTI SM HVA