January 27, 2021
In a country in which nearly 44% adult women and 25% adult men in rural areas cannot read a sentence in any language.
Explaining to them the importance and application of technology and science has become even harder in this ever changing digital world. When poor quality science, uninformed by even the basic economics, is communicated to this audience, in a format alien to them, the results are what we are seeing in theSoil Health Card( SHC) scheme: which has had no effect on fertilizer use in modern day farming. Worse, we may even have sown the seeds of distrust in farmers towards science-based recommendations. This outcome is solely attributed towards the miscommunication between the scientists and the farmers.
The SHC scheme is a study to find out about how effective the communication between the farmers and scientists is. Soil tests are poorly done and farmers have identified the problem. If the soil tests are done well, results are translated into recommendations in multiple ways that are not in accordance with farmers interest. For example, since 2011, the price of phosphate and potash have more than doubled, but the equations used to generate fertiliser recommendations have not changed. SHC recommendations try to maximise crop yields while farmers want to maximise profits. To add to that, test results and recommendations are printed in the SHC like they are presented in journal articles.
India has an ever growing population. The amount of mouths to feed has increased drastically. Farmers are facing a tremendous amount of pressure to meet such demands without implementing modern technology that this digital world has to offer us. In recent times the Covid - 19 has created an urgency to amplify the digital agriculture growth in India. Making this only possible when rural connectivity improves as majority of the farming land is in the rural part of India.
In the process of delivering tailor made solutions to the farmer based on their crop’s sowing date, category, harvest date, soil resistance, disease outbreaks, pest control, water availability, weather conditions in addition to market prices, technology plays a significant role in increasing such productivity. Suggestions like these will solely be based on the vast network of data ecosystems supported by ICT (Information, Communication & Technology) and IoT (Internet of Things) that show potential in fulfilling real, targeted information and then eventually, aiding in maximising profits and minimising losses.