Agetch in IndiaAgriculture has been the backbone of India’s economy for centuries. Providing livelihoods to millions of people and contributing more than half of the country’s GDP. However, the sector has faced numerous challenges, including unpredictable weather patterns, inadequate infrastructure and the need to meet the demands of a growing population. 

To overcome these challenges and ensure food security, India has been progressively integrating technology into farming practices, leading to the emergence of Agtech (Agricultural Technology) as a revolutionary force in the agricultural sector.

Agtech in India

Agtech refers to the use of technology and innovation to enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability. In India, the integration of Agtech has ushered in a new era of farming, the number of agtech start-ups grew from under 50 to over 1,000 between 2013 and 2020. Thus transforming traditional practices into more efficient, data-driven and sustainable methods. 

Since Agtech was introduced into India’s agriculture it has boosted GDP by 16%, whilst providing 44% of employment from the national workforce. This integration has been driven by the increasing availability and affordability of technology, as well as the government’s efforts to promote digital agriculture.

Key Areas of Agtech Integration

One of the most significant advancements in Indian agriculture is the adoption of precision agriculture. Farmers are utilizing GPS technology, drones and sensors to collect data on soil quality, moisture levels and crop health. This data is used to make informed decisions about when and where to plant, irrigate and harvest, leading to reduced resource wastage and increased crop yields.

Farm management software applications have become essential tools for Indian farmers. These applications offer features like crop planning, real-time weather updates and market information. Farmers can now monitor their operations through their smartphones, making it easier to manage resources, expenses and revenue.

India’s agriculture heavily depends on irrigation, and smart irrigation systems have become a game-changer. These systems use data from various sources to optimize water usage, ensuring that crops receive the right amount of water at the right time. This not only conserves water but also minimizes the cost of irrigation.

Online agricultural marketplaces have become a platform for farmers to sell their produce directly to buyers. This reduces the reliance on middlemen and increases farmers’ income. These platforms also provide farmers with information on market demand and prices, helping them make informed decisions.

Lastly, biotechnology and genetically modified (GM) crops have gained ground in India. GM crops, such as Bt cotton and Bt brinjal, have shown increased resistance to pests and diseases, leading to higher yields and reduced pesticide use.

Challenges and Opportunities

While the integration of Agtech has brought about significant improvements in Indian agriculture, it also faces some challenges. The digital divide, where not all farmers have access to technology, remains a critical issue. In addition, the rapid pace of technological change can make it difficult for some farmers to keep up.

However, Agtech also presents immense opportunities. As the government continues to invest in rural digital infrastructure and awareness programs, more farmers are gaining access to technology. Furthermore, Agtech has the potential to make Indian agriculture more resilient in the face of climate change, reduce post-harvest losses and enhance food security.

Government Initiatives 

The Indian government has launched several initiatives to promote Agtech adoption among farmers. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme provides direct income support to farmers, facilitating their investment in technology. The National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGPA) aims to create a common platform for all agriculture-related information and services.


The integration of Agtech in Indian farming practices is revolutionizing the agriculture sector. Through precision agriculture, farm management software, smart irrigation systems, online marketplaces and biotechnology, Indian farmers are reaping the benefits of increased productivity, reduced costs and improved livelihoods. While challenges persist, the government’s initiatives and the growing availability of technology offer hope for a brighter future for agriculture in India. The integration of Agtech is not just a modernization of Indian farming; it’s a pathway towards sustainable, efficient and resilient agriculture that can meet the needs of a growing population.

– Sophie Higham
Photo: Unsplash

Electric Tractors in IndiaIn April of this year, India officially overtook China as the most populous country in the world when its population reached a whopping 1.426 billion people. Almost 75% of that population depends on the agriculture sector as a means of income, although said sector only makes up 15% of India’s economy, due to the growth of other industries. Though they make up a majority of the country, a significant portion of Indian farmers are poor, with 20% living under the poverty line in 2019. As a result of the considerable number of agricultural workers living within its borders, India is home to the largest tractor market in the world.

Fossil fuels power most of the machinery that the domestic tractor industry has manufactured, and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) estimates that diesel-powered tractors in India consume almost 8% of all the country’s fuel per year, close to the amount of all of its buses. In recent years, however, India’s tractor industry has imported and produced electric tractors, with Sonalika manufacturing the country’s first electric tractor in 2020. Introducing electric tractors in India on a widespread scale would offer several benefits to some of the country’s most impoverished residents.

Health Benefits Over Diesel

The primary benefit that electric tractors offer Indian farmers over diesel-powered tractors is their ability to help mitigate the issue of air pollution. Though the focus is often on cities when talking of poor air quality in India, air pollution in many rural areas of India is practically as high as levels in urban regions. The 2022 State of Global Air Report revealed that 1.6 million people in India died due to air pollution in 2019. What’s more, research shows that premature death due to air pollution alone is three times as common in rural areas compared to urban areas. 

Expanding the use of electric tractors in India would help address this disparity as they are emission-free. Non-electric tractors, on the other hand, contribute to air pollution, and the ICCT approximates that diesel-powered tractors in India released “about 25 kilotonnes of particulate matter and almost 300 kilotonnes of nitrogen oxides as of 2020”. Electric tractors would lower the amount of pollution that rural Indians endure, making the air cleaner, safer and preventing deaths.

Another health benefit of electric tractors is that they are significantly quieter than non-electric tractors. Many tractors that run on fossil fuels have loud engines that can reach 100 decibels, a level that is capable of causing hearing damage after 15 minutes of exposure. Electric tractors, on the other hand, do not depend on an engine for power and therefore can operate at volumes that are much safer for farmers’ ears. Electric tractors would protect Indian farmers’ hearing and prevent them from needing hearing aids in the future or from being unable to afford any medical devices and instead being forced to take on the risks of working with hearing loss. 

Financial Considerations

Although it’s true that the current price of electric tractors in India can often be twice that of diesel-powered machinery, which can be a barrier to the adoption of electric farm equipment, the ICCT calculates that the 10-year cost of owning and using an electric tractor is almost the same price as a traditional tractor. The reason for this is that electric tractors are 90% efficient in converting thermal energy to mechanical energy, whereas diesel-powered tractors are less than 30% efficient in completing the same task. Farmers who own electric tractors, then, can get more bang for their buck when it comes to powering and using their machinery, and end up spending less on energy in the long run.

Electric tractors also require less maintenance because they do not rely on an engine to run, meaning fewer parts could become damaged and require repair or replacement. This feature would allow farmers to save money and give them peace of mind regarding the durability of their electric equipment. 

Regarding the financial downsides of non-electric tractors, diesel fuel is subject to frequent price fluctuations and is affected by geopolitical events like the ongoing Ukraine war. Electric tractors do not suffer from this risk of volatility in terms of the price of charging up machinery, and therefore provide farmers with a greater amount of financial security. 

Looking Ahead

While there are currently no up-front incentives offered to buyers of electric tractors in India, the good news is that India’s government currently has several policies in place for electric on-road vehicles that it could easily extend to electric tractors. One of these policies is the FAME II scheme that, if applied to all zero-emission equipment in India, would provide subsidies that would lower the price of electric tractors to near, or even below, that of diesel machinery. The Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), India’s association of electric vehicle manufacturers, has already called on the Indian government to extend subsidies to electric off-road equipment in their Union Budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

While India’s national and individual state governments have implemented measures to fight air pollution, talks of lowering emissions have often overlooked rural areas. As electric tractors in India become adopted more and more, the nation’s farmers and other rural residents will finally be able to rest — and breathe — easy knowing they are reaping most of the benefits.

– Sofia Oliver
Photo: Unsplash

Agriculture in India
For decades, agriculture has played a key role in India’s socioeconomic growth. India is the second largest contributor of agriculture in the world with around 50 percent of people in India making their living from farming. But recently, farming has started to become less attractive, and more people are moving to big cities for different job opportunities. A decrease in water levels and poor crop yields have made it difficult to promote the growth of agriculture in India. Several organizations are stepping up to help turn things around and create new advancements in agriculture in India.

Advancements in Agriculture in India

  1. In 2017, India’s Prime Minister Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu signed seven agreements to enhance cooperation in space, agriculture and water management. The two countries hope that one outcome of this program will bring new technology that will help fight water shortages and bring agriculture back to India.
  2. The Prime Minister has also approved the Three-Year Action Plan through the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) that is aimed at the educational aspects surrounding agriculture in India, with more support being provided to the faculty and students in higher agricultural education. The hope is to bring more confident people into the agricultural field, including women.
  3. DuPont India is one of the largest agricultural companies in the country. They work with the farmers in India to find solutions to the ever-changing environment. Along with providing agricultural products, the company also empowers farmers to make their ideas a reality. They work to find sustainable ways of farming and to protect the growth of crops for generations to come. This means finding solutions for insect and disease control, which are two of the problems that are preventing further growth in the agricultural community.
  4. As the largest supplier of hybrid seeds in the country, farmers are dependent on Nuziveedu Seeds Limited (NSL) to provide high yielding seeds for their ever-growing population. The company is doing its part to contribute to the growth of agriculture in India by providing high-quality hybrid seeds. NSL provides seeds for more than 50,000 retailers. Over the years, NSL has become extremely focused on increasing crop yields, due to the water scarcity in India. The company has introduced a new concept that reduces the space between crops, which leads to an increase in overall production. This process has enabled farmers to use their time more effectively, and more than 35 percent of the farming community has started using this innovation.

Because of companies such as DuPont India and NSL, agriculture in India is able to continue to grow and be one of the largest farming contributors in the world. The entirety of India’s population is reliant on having a cohesive system of agriculture, whether it is their source of income or not. In fact, the whole world benefits from the advancements in agriculture in India; therefore, being educated in innovative, new technologies and changes in the field is incredibly important.

– Allisa Rumreich
Photo: Flickr

Indian farmers use AIIndia is an agrarian economy and over 58 percent of the rural households depend on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood. With the recent help of tech giant Microsoft, Indian farmers have begun to use AI to increase efficiency, further encouraging them to harvest a good crop.

Every year since 2013, more than 12,000 suicides have been reported in the agricultural sector with 10 percent accounting for farmer suicides. Collectively, seven states (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Naidu) accounted for 87.5 percent of the total suicides in the farming sector. Additionally, the reasons for farmers’ suicides have varied widely including high input costs, low yields, disintegration with markets, mounting loans, water crisis and urban consumer-driven economic policies.

In partnership with the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Microsoft developed an AI-sowing app. With the app, Indian farmers use AI to increase their agricultural income, giving them greater price control over their crop yields.

On his two-day visit to India in 2017, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella highlighted the benefits of AI in agriculture. In an interaction with Microsoft engineers in India, Nadella said, “Taking AI to the oldest industry on our planet, agriculture, is something we have already been doing in collaboration with local stakeholders like ICRISAT, which just at a little distance away from the campus. If you can increase the yield [with the help of AI] in agriculture, the kind of impact it will have on economies like India will be huge.”

The beta version of the new sowing application was tested in June 2016 in Kurnool district of the Indian state Andhra Pradesh and was applied only to the groundnut crop. The results showed a 30 percent higher average in yield per hectare. The pilot also confirmed that the advisories received through the app via SMS were relevant and accurate. The sowing app provides the best times to sow depending on weather conditions, soil and other indicators, relieving Indian farmers from inaccurate forecasts.

The app relies on business intelligence tools that give clear insights on the soil health, fertilizer recommendations and seven-day weather forecasts powered by the world’s best available weather observation systems and global forecast models.  So far, Indian farmers use AI-powered apps in a few dozen villages in Telangana, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Powered by Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite, the app provides updates to Indian farmers. Indian farmers use AI for sowing recommendation, seed treatment, optimum sowing depth, preventive weed management, land preparation, farmyard manure application, recommendation on harvesting, shade drying of harvested pods and storage. The SMSs can also be delivered in regional languages like Telugu and Kannada. Through a basic phone capable of receiving text messages, farmers can use AI with no capital expenditure.

Microsoft’s next collaboration could help farmers fight pest risk. In collaboration with India’s largest producer of agrochemicals, United Phosphorous (UPL), Microsoft aims at leveraging AI and machine learning to calculate the risk of pest attack.

But interestingly, Indian farmers are not oblivious to digital farming. In the past, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Innovation Labs introduced mKrishi, which allowed farmers to receive advice on pest information, crop prices, weather conditions and more in their local languages.

Tech innovations and partnerships like that of Microsoft and TCS could help Indian farmers with information that is more data-driven and based on pure analytics. Whether such efforts lower the suicidal rates of Indian farmers or not is yet to be seen. But if the results are positive, it will be a boon to many agriculturally reliant Indian households that have faced huge losses.

– Deena Zaidi

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in indiaAs of 2016, over 20 percent of India’s population lives below the poverty line. Part of the problem lies in the lack of food security in India. Since there is little sustainable agriculture in India, many people are malnourished. India is home to at least 15 percent of the world’s malnourished.

One way to combat the malnourishment epidemic in India is to create a sustainable agricultural system. These systems aim to produce food that is not only natural and healthy, but also plentiful and not harmful to the earth. In a sustainable agricultural system, the growers stay away from any form of chemicals or pesticides. This helps keep the food healthy and edible, and decreases disease within the community.

In India, much of the nation’s agriculture is dependent on rainfall. This leads to the slow growth of crops, causing the supply to fall behind the demand. Fortunately, through technological advancements and education, many of the barriers between India and sustainable agriculture can be conquered.

India must optimize its agriculture through three main areas: production, storage and distribution.

By establishing efficient water management, India could increase its supply dramatically. Many of the crops it raises, such as sugar cane, require large amounts of water. By creating an irrigation system, Indian farmers would no longer need to only rely on rainwater for their crops. This would help increase production.

Another reason why India’s agriculture is floundering is insufficient storage. Perishables are going bad in store houses before they can be consumed. New innovations such as certain tarpaulins, which keep perishables cool during transit, can help improve storage and distribution.

Though the country still has a long way to go before it can officially state that it has sustainable agriculture in India, it has already started making headway. One company, BASF, has already started creating and distributing products to India to help drive sustainability. The company’s products include biodegradable mulch film and other seed treatments.

BASF has also created an outreach program, Samruddhi, that has reached over 23,000 Indian farmers in 2016 alone. The company provides kits to Indian farmers that include protective tools and equipment.

While India still has a long way to go, products and education through companies like BASF can help fuel sustainable agriculture in India in the future.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr

Awaaz.De, a Hindi phrase meaning “provide a voice,” is a novel technological initiative that originated in Ahmedabad, India. The platform gives farmers advice related to agriculture, fluctuating sale prices and harvest and enables them to communicate with each other and share vital information about market changes.

Agriculture is an essential primary sector industry that represents a considerable source of income for people in developing countries. The agricultural industry offers employment to large numbers of people who are unable to obtain jobs in the secondary and tertiary sectors because they lack technical knowledge, skills or relevant education.

India alone contributes approximately 7.68 percent of the world’s agriculture output. Its vast contribution underscores the importance of constant innovation in the farming industry, better agricultural techniques and market strategies that will optimize productivity and profit.

The founders of Awaaz.De wanted to create a user-friendly interface. They recognized that individuals in disadvantaged societal groups often have limited access to the Internet and smartphone technology. This lack of connection is a consequence of both the priciness of these services and their limited penetration into rural communities with small consumer bases.

A network for farmers, Awaaz.De can be accessed on elementary mobile phones and depends on voice communication. It enables barriers such as language and location to be overcome and facilitates a factual transfer of information that can help farmers increase crop yields and income.

It also enables organizations such as Farm Scientist to liaise with farmers regardless of their language or level of education. Illiteracy is a rampant issue in developing countries, pereptuating as a result of expensive tuition fees, little emphasis on further education and low school attendance due to poor health or household obligations.

According to Neil Patil, chief executive officer of Awaaz.De, “These are exciting times for Awaaz.De as we grow and diversify our customer base in India and abroad, collaborating with like-minded organizations and leveraging our expertise and the immense potential of ICTs for social impact.”

It is believed that every dollar of investment in the technology yields $10 because of increases in agricultural productivity. Awaaz.De symbolizes a promising start to an age of technological innovations that will benefit all individuals, regardless of their income or access to sophisticated technology.

Tanvi Ambulkar

Photo: Flickr