Abstract— The
application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in agriculture is
increasingly important. E-Agriculture is an emerging field focusing on the
enhancement of agricultural and rural development through improved information
and communication processes. More specifically, e-Agriculture involves the
conceptualization, design, development, evaluation and application of innovative
ways to use information and communication technologies (ICT) in the rural
domain, with a primary focus on agriculture. ICT promises a fundamental change
in all aspects of our lives, including knowledge dissemination, social
interaction, economic and business practices, political engagement, media,
education, health, leisure and entertainment. ICTs are most natural allies to
facilitate the outreach of Agricultural Extension system in the country.
Despite large, well-educated, well-trained and well-organized Agricultural
extension manpower, around 60% of farmers in the country still remain
un-reached, not served by any extension agency or functionary. Information is
vital to tackle climate change effects: for this reason, a shift is needed in
the agriculture sector to disseminate appropriate knowledge at the right time
to the ones who are at the frontline in the battle: the farmers, in both
developed and developing countries. At the same time, information per se is not
enough, but appropriate communications systems are needed to ensure that
information come to farmers in an effective, accurate and clear way. The
present papers tries to capture some of the ICT initiatives in agricultural
sector, with reference to Indian agriculture.

                                                                                                                                                                    
I. Introduction

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1.      
Agriculture is a major sector
which is vital for the survival of modern man. Plants are the producers in the
food chain, and without them, the life cycle would just not be possible.
Agricultural produce, though highly perishable compared to other food sources, is
essential for survival. Crops are used to produce several food sources by
themselves or through by-products such as bread, powders, organic additives to
other goods and the like.

2.      
The produce from agriculture
drives trade from one country to another, brings income for farmers, makes
productive use of otherwise idle land, and brings food on the table. It is such
an important part of everyone’s daily life, although it may not be seen as a
direct factor since the produce goes a long way before reaching the hands of
everyone who benefits from it. Because of its importance to society, it’s must
to evolve with the times and adjust to meet the needs of modern people. By
adapting and making use of IT to help improve agricultural progress, everyone
benefits from the union of these sectors.

                                                                                                                    
II. Farming without Information technology

Organic farming is an alternative
agricultural system which originated early in the 20th century in reaction to
rapidly changing farming practices. Organic farming continues to be developed
by various organic agriculture organizations today. It relies on fertilizers of
organic origin such as compost manure, green manure, and bone meal and places
emphasis on techniques such as crop rotation and companion planting. Biological
pest control, mixed cropping and the fostering of insect predators are
encouraged. In general, organic standards are designed to allow the use of
naturally occurring substances while prohibiting or strictly limiting synthetic
substances.

                                                                                                                                                              
III. present status

ICT is
becoming the facilitator of socio-economic development in rural India with its
obvious facilities by way of health, education, financial services and
employment avenues, etc. It can help the bridge gaps by providing ‘e’ and ‘m’
services. ICT offering meant for rural sector can be classified into three
categories:

     1. Those solutions which aim are aimed at
empowerment

     2. Those which would do enablement.

     3. Those for market expansion.

• With
respect to empowerment- e-choupal comes up as fine example.

•  This is example of efficient supply chain
system empowering the farmers with timely and relevant information enabling
them to get better returns for their produce.

• And due to
its community centric approach, it gives other offerings also to the farmers’
like- insurance and farm management practice, etc.

• The
practice of e-governance, which creates transparency and governance through IT
has enabled the citizens. Successful implementation of e-governance in the
areas like- maintain land records is a great step in removing the malpractices
and creating assurance of rightful ownership.

• Aadhar is
another such tool, which has empowered the masses by confirming their
identities and is good example of ICT solution attempting to provide access to
monetary benefits by establishing the correct identity and this way rural
economy is also expanding.

•   Market expansion with the help of ICT can be
seen through various examples, such as – In recent years the village and
heritage tourism in remote areas of the country has picked up a huge momentum
and this has been done on account of awareness being created by the online
portals, attracting more visitors compared to past.

• Direct
connect through e-commerce has facilitated large number of artisans agro-based
small enterprises in rural areas. Women’s livelihood is being facilitated
amongst the weavers’ community in the north eastern states by marketing their
product through the internet medium.

• Indian
rural market is going under transformation with better access to information.
With the help of IT, farmers can use the services of FMC and can get better
value for their product.

•Irrigate via smart
phone: Mobile is playing a big role in monitoring and controlling crop
irrigation systems. With the right equipment a farmer can control his
irrigation systems from a phone or computer instead of driving to each field.

• Thus
information technology will definitely be in a position to change the scenario
of rural life and create a better path for rural development.

• Among the
major States, Maharashtra was on top with the 104 out of 1,000 families had
Internet in cities, followed by Kerala and Himachal Pradesh at 95 each and
Haryana at 81.5.

•Moisture
sensors in the ground are able to communicate information about the level of
the moisture present at the certain depth of the soil. This gives more precise
control of water and other inputs like fertilizer that are applied by
irrigation pivot.

•GPS
mapping for an input to the field using variable rate technology, which helps
farmer in accessing the need i.e. where they need to put more fertilizer or
less, according to the requirement of the soil. GPS enabled services are also
helping in field documentation about yield, moisture, maps for field drainage,
etc.

         1. Various farmer friendly
applications (apps) are being launched by companies, which helps farmers in
discovering prices for their products, delivering their product, getting soil
report, etc.

        2. One of the best use of IT in farming
is being done by one vegetable farmer outside Hyderabad using webcams to
monitor the crops and to take the scientists’ expertise to address problems
without taking them to the field.

 

                                                                                                                                       
IV.  Benefits of it on agriculture

 

 

 

 

Improved
decision making – By having the necessary information, farmers—big and small
can make better and more informed decision concerning their agricultural
activities. May it be about who to get their grains from or perhaps who to sell
it to, the communication channels that information technology brings makes
production up to distribution easier for the farmers. The exchange of knowledge
from various countries and organization also helps farmers be more aware of
factors to consider before making their decisions.

•Better
planning– IT has paved the way to come up with farming software which can keep
better track of crops, predict yields, when to best plant and what to plant, to
intercrop or focus on just one product, or determine the current need of the
crops—just about everything needed to improve production and income.

•By
adjusting to the modern farming methodologies, farmers can have better control
of their crops. Gaining information from their farm is essential in sustaining
its success and fuelling further growth.

•Community
involvement – There are several programs which are made possible by IT
applications, and community involvement in agriculture can be increased as
well. When a community adopts modern methods for agriculture, the production of
local goods can be increased.

•There
are some places where people greatly benefit from the land and their resources
for agriculture, and with IT, there can be improved union in local farmers
which can lead to their community’s overall improved production that may lead
to better income for everyone involved.

•Agricultural
breakthroughs – IT makes the spread of information concerning the latest
agricultural breakthroughs more possible. When scientists develop new and
improved grains or find techniques to help winter crops become stronger against
the cold, farmers from all over the world may benefit from the same
breakthroughs simply by being connected to the rest of the agricultural world.
Sharing information to help everyone progress is made much easier through
resources made available and accessible by IT.

•Agriculture
for everyone – Farmers have in-depth knowledge when it comes to their trade.
However, interested individuals who may be called backyard farmers may also
benefit from how modern technology has changed how agriculture is seen. Growing
your own sustainable garden of herbs, fruit trees, and other agricultural
produce can be possible in a smaller scale. Planting is beneficial in more ways
than one, and having your own produce even helps assure the freshness and
quality of the food your family eats.

                                                                                                                                            
V. Impact of it on agriculture

In the context of agriculture, the
potential of information technology (IT) can be assessed broadly under two
heads: (a) as a tool for direct contribution to agricultural productivity and
(b) as an indirect tool for empowering farmers to take informed and quality
decisions which will have positive impact on the way agriculture and allied
activities are conducted.

 

Precision farming, popular in developed
countries, extensively uses IT to make direct contribution to agricultural
productivity. The techniques of remote sensing using satellite technologies,
geographical information systems, and agronomy and soil sciences are used to
increase the agricultural output. This approach is capital intensive and useful
where large tracts of land are involved. Consequently it is more suitable for
farming taken up on corporate lines.

 

The indirect benefits of IT in empowering
farmer are significant and remain to be exploited. The farmer urgently requires
timely and reliable sources of information inputs for taking decisions. At
present, the farmer depends on trickling down of decision inputs from
conventional sources which are slow and unreliable. The changing environment
faced by farmers makes information not merely useful, but necessary to remain
competitive. IT has made its way into the agricultural sector, and with
positive results. To name a few, here are some of its effects:

 

1.      
Improved decision making

2.      
Better planning

3.      
Community involvement

4.      
Agricultural breakthroughs

5.      
Agriculture for everyone

People only have to open their minds to
the endless possibilities that technological advancement can bring to
agriculture. Instead of being locked away with the traditional strategies for
planting, why not get involved in new and improved methods of farming? Today’s
society can benefit from agricultural advancements and live sustainable lives
by improving the production, harvest methods, and distribution of agricultural
goods. All of these effects and more are possible through the successful merge
of IT and agriculture which is why farmers are getting more and more encouraged
to take part in this positive change.

 

 

                                                                                                                      
VI. Problems in effective use of Technology

Though
lots of problems like feasibility of connectivity in rural areas, cost involved
in ensuring services, need for basic computer literacy and literacy hinders the
fast development of e-Agriculture, it will definitely be an engine of growth in
Rural India once the initial hiccups are overcome. Some of those problems are:-

•  The reach of the technology is still very
poor and large chunk of farmers are still ignorant about such advancements. The
distribution of technologies is not uniform throughout the country. Farmers of
prosperous states are at the receiving end like- Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra
and the farmers of backward states still practise their age old techniques and
knowledge.

•  The use of technology is being used by the
already rich farmers and utilising these services they are further prospering.
The small and marginal farmers are again being left out in the process of
development.

•  Due to low literacy rate among farmers and
digital divide, there is a rise of new class of middle man, who provide ICT
services to farmers. They are also believed to distort the information for
their own benefit.

•  The rural infrastructure for the use of ICT
is also not uniform and lot of regional disparity persists.

 

                                                                                                                                       
VII. Conclusion and Suggestions

Farmers and policymakers working on
improvement of agriculture should be able for effective use of ICT, in order to
react to new conditions which are characterized by: complete and partial
deregulation of agricultural market, reduction of protectionist measures of
government, opening of agricultural markets, fluctuations in agricultural
environment and use of chances for export. Quality of rural life also can be
improved by quality information enabling better decision making. ICT can play a
main role in support of transformation of rural areas and agriculture in order
to respond to these challenges and reduce digital inequality and divide between
rural and urban areas.

Fast changes in ICT domain enable
development and dissemination of electronic services in agriculture. National
strategies for implementation and use of ICT in agriculture should be
formulated. National coordination agencies with consultative role can act as
catalyst in this formulation process. No single institution can alone
successfully implement ICT in agriculture and rural areas. Therefore,
industries with great influence on agriculture, like the fertilizer or food
industry, should jointly initiate and encourage implementation of ICT

in agriculture.

ICTs are changing all the spheres of
human lives and agriculture cannot be an exception. ICTs now may act as an
agent for changing agrarian and farmer’s life by improving access of
information and sharing knowledge. The ICT tools can change the ideas,
activities and knowledge of the farmers. Farmers feel empowered and can adopt
appropriate measures at the time of need.

With the new
extension of ITC initiatives like Krishivihar, i-Kisan,e-kutir, e-Sagoo, ICT
models- AGROWEB, Agropedia, AgrInnovate, etc. Indian agriculture has come to a
long way and established several records in terms of production and
productivity. IT had the potential to transform agriculture into a better
prospect in the wake of climate change and decrease in the cultivable land.