Agritech : The new Black!

Imagine this – a digital agricultural platform where farmers directly connect with end consumers to sell their produce. Drones equipped with imaging sensors, GPS, and cameras to plant seeds, spray water & pesticides. Cultivation of plants without soil. Welcome to the brand new world of Agritech, the new black. 


What is Agritech?


Agritech, agrotech, agtech are all abbreviations of agricultural technology, an umbrella term for the use of technology in agriculture to solve problems and increase efficiency, productivity and profitability.


We all know that a rapidly increasing population coupled with rapidly decreasing farming land is putting a lot of extra pressure on Agri industry to increase output. Increased carbon footprint, and climate change, with manifests through global warming and extreme weather conditions, are making rain-fed agriculture an increasingly risky prospect. Decades of using synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals have led to soil infertility and drastically reduced and polluted water bodies are making life difficult for farmers. Most importantly, farmers are greatly exploited by almost everyone in the value chain and end up earning less than Rs 7000 per month on average. This is where technology plays such a crucial role. It has the potential to rescue our farmers and boost their revenue. Agritech has been helping farmers work smarter and faster with fewer resources.

Changing the face of agriculture

For most urban people, the first thing that comes to mind about agriculture is a rural, old fashioned, dirty, and poor job. Not anymore! Agri sector is evolving dynamically, both in India and globally. Just to give you a perspective, in the first half of 2019, Indian agritech start-ups received $248 million funding, a 300% increase from 2018. Google has also unveiled a $10 bn tech fund for agriculture and small businesses. There are more than 474 agritech start-ups in India currently, solving a wide range of issues from supply chain logistics and storage to farm automation to product and process innovations – sensors, precision agriculture, soil spectral analysis devices, IoT-based sensor networks, satellite photography and sensors, biotech, automated irrigation, light and heat control and intelligent software analysis for pest and disease prediction, soil management. The list just keeps going on. With large scale agricultural reforms taking place in the country, the sector is seeing increased government support, large investments, infrastructure and policy incentives.


Impact of Agritech


The impact of agritech is multi-fold. Let’s consider a few examples.


Reducing food miles: Agritech reduces food miles with the help of vertical farming and hydroponics. Through these, food can be grown in small spaces and urban areas, enabling urban subsistence agriculture and thus, fresher and healthier food on the table.


Cutting out middlemen: Agritech helps cut middlemen in the supply chain by enabling direct communication between farmers and consumers.

Optimizing crop growth: Agritech brings automation to farm machinery, which can help locate and identify problems faster, as well as optimize water and other inputs for proper crop growth. Block-chain technology is being used for crop tracking and managing food supply at regional and national levels.


Agriculture in India has traditionally been full of unpredictability, inefficiency, and chaos. Technology is an interesting prospect to mitigate these. It benefits all the stakeholders in the value chain, from the farmer to the end consumer. But, as with any other solution, agritech comes with its own set of cons.


Our concerns regarding Agritech


The farmer is one of the most exploited stakeholders in the agri industry. While there are many tech solutions that aim to empower the farmer, if not implemented properly, they could end up leading to the exact opposite - the farmer losing control over the process and decision-making power. Corporate and investor avarice is something to be wary of as well.


Probably the biggest side-effect of agritech is the loss of jobs. Agriculture is the largest employment sector in India by a mile, employing about 58% of the workforce. And a large part of this workforce is unskilled labor. Many of these jobs could be adversely impacted by agritech, be it through increased automation, such as the use of robots to replace humans, or through a need for enhanced skills, which might be out of reach for the average worker for a variety of reasons.


So where do we draw the line? How do we balance the pros of agritech with the cons? Please leave your comments below J


  1. To excess technology for farmers is a big concern.

    If entrepreneurs only can benefit with agritechnology then I think farmers will be in great loss.

  2. No doubt, Agritech will help the farmers. But there is a question of affordability as most of the farmers in India are Small & Marginal farmers and simantaneously their land holdings are decreasing day by day.
    The day when farmers will connect directly with the consumers , it will bring revolution.
    I must say, the blockchain application must be used first in organic produce in India and slowly we can move to next products.

    Really, it's a nice article.


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