Data revolution in Indian agriculture

Context: Recently, two significant documents relating to the Indian agriculture sector were released.

  1. ‘India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA)’ from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (MoA&FW).
  2. ‘Indian Agriculture: Ripe for Disruption’ from a private organisation, Bain and Company.

About India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA)

  • Digital revolution: It talks about a digital revolution in the agriculture sector and designs the blueprint of “digital agriculture”.
  • Idea of integration: Improvement of farmers’ livelihood through tight integration of agri-tech innovation and the agriculture industry ecosystem to farming and food systems.
    • It provides for openness of data i.e. open to businesses and farmers.
  • Value-added innovative services: By agri-tech industries and start-ups are an integral part of the IDEA architecture.
  • Farm laws are significant: These will lead to a single national market with a national platform with better connection between producer and consumers.
    • The reforms have been depicted as a game-changer in the agriculture sector.

About ‘Indian Agriculture: Ripe for Disruption’

  • Data-based prediction: It predicts future trajectories of agri-business scenarios in another 20 years while anchoring to the agricultural set-up at present.
    • It predicts a drastic investment opportunity development by 2025.
    • Agriculture sector (currently $370 billion) is estimated to receive an additional $35 billion investment.
  • Reasons behind the investment: Changes in the regulatory framework, especially:
    • Recent changes in the Farm Acts.
    • Digital disruption.
  • Alternative forms of agriculture: It includes targeting the production of alternative proteins, and food cell-based food/ingredients and initiating ocean farming, etc.
  • A ‘today forward– future back approach’: It enables the creation of value at present time while moving toward future vision.
  • Doubling farmers’ income targets: Benefiting from the huge investments into the agri-ecosystem, this target can be achieved in near future.

Criticism & Challenges

  • Data misuse: Ethics of creating a Unique Farmer ID based on one’s Aadhaar number and also the potential for data misuse.
  • Not enough deliberation: Beyond the news coverage about the prospects of achieving the goal of Doubling Farmers Income; the Bain report has not been widely discussed, at least in the public domain.
  • No landless farmers in new database
  • Digital illiteracy among farmers: Both reports heavily relied upon digital disruption to improve farmers’ livelihoods, without discussing how much farmers will be prepared to benefit from these newly emerging business environments.
    • Fact is that a majority of small and marginal farmers are not technology-savvy.
  • No consideration to on-going farmers protest: Reports ignore the protest of farmers against the reforms without considering it as a barrier or risk factor resulting in a repealing of these new farm laws.
  • Two reports look forward to benefiting from the recent agriculture legislature changes without perceiving the capacity-building required at a farmer’s end.


  • Capacity building of the farmers in India:  Until the educated young farmers replace the existing under-educated small and medium farmers.
  • It can be done through a mixed approach:
    • Building the capacities of individual farmers.
    • Coping with the new situation by establishing support systems, through FPOs and other farmers associations.

Way forward

Therefore, knowing the fact that a data revolution is inevitable in the agriculture sector, given its socio-political complexities, we cannot just count on technology fixes and agri-business investments for improving farmers’ livelihoods. There need to be immense efforts to improve the capacities of the farmers in India and every stakeholder must contribute towards this.

2) Disaster resilience as an inherent part of community culture

  • Source: The Hindu Page 7/OPED- Stronger at the grassroots
  • GS2/GS3: Panchayati Raj, Disaster and disaster management.

Context: Recently, the People’s Plan Campaign and Vibrant Gram Sabha Dashboard were rolled out which aspire to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system by making gram sabhas more vibrant.

Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in India

  • The Panchayati Raj was first adopted by Nagaur in Rajasthan on October 2, 1959.
  • PRIs were constitutionalized through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992.
  • Since then, it has expanded vastly.
    • Currently in India, 2,60,512 Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) are represented by about 31 lakh elected members.
  • In this system of local self-governance, people in the villages participate in the decision-making process.
    • Therefore, it is the backbone of democracy.

Role/significance of PRIs during pandemic/crisis

  • Failing of traditional top-down disaster response system:  When the traditional top-down disaster response system was compromised during the pandemic, it was PRIs that played a remarkable role.
  • Provided essential leadership at the local level: They helped reduce risks, responded swiftly and thus helped people recover quickly.
  • Performed both regulatory and welfare functions: During the nationwide lockdown, PRIs:
    • Set up containment zones
    • Arranged transport
    • Identified buildings for quarantining people
    • Provisioned food for the incoming migrants.
  • Role played by gram Sabhas:  Gram Sabhas act as a sounding board for diverse ideas and opinions.
    • They provide a platform to build consensus and make resolutions in the community’s interest.
    • During the pandemic, gram sabhas resolved to adhere to COVID norms.
  • Bridged the trust gap between the community and the officials: By regular engagement with frontline workers like ASHA workers and Anganwadi workers through committees.
  • Community-based surveillance systems: During the pandemic, PRIs organised community-based surveillance systems involving village elders, the youth and self-help groups (SHGs) to keep a strict vigil in quarantine centres and monitor symptoms in households.
  • Role in mobilising citizens for COVID-19 vaccination.

Initiatives to be taken to building capacity of PRIs

  • Including disaster management in Panchayat Raj Acts:
    • It will ensure citizen-centric mapping and planning of resources.
    • Various insurance products customised to local needs will build financial resilience of the community.
  • Regular location-specific training programmes:
    • These will act as platforms for sharing best practices.
    • These will strengthen individual and institutional capacities.
  • Community-based disaster management plans
    • These plans would provide a strategy for resource utilisation and maintenance during a disaster.
    • These plans should tap the traditional wisdom of local communities which will complement modern practices.
    • Establishment of community disaster funds in all gram panchayats and encouraging financial contributions from the community.


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