The government will soon launch a common data infrastructure of all farmers along with land record details for better reach of various farm schemes, senior Agriculture Ministry official Ashish Kumar Bhutani said on Thursday.
"This will act as a one-stop-shop for data, including access to finance by farmers, startups, and researchers for developing new apps, so that the benefits reach the grassroots," Bhutani said, addressing a webinar organised by Ficci and German Agribusiness Alliance.
The government's schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), PM-KISAN and Soil Health Card will be integrated through a common database along with land record details over a period of time, he said in a statement.
"The data will be reliable, and that the government is targeting to launch this soon," he said, adding that developing standards for sharing and improving the quality of data will be closely monitored by the government.
Bhutani is CEO of PMFBY as well as joint secretary in the Union Agriculture Ministry.
On adoption of artificial intelligence in the agriculture sector, Bhutani said the government acting as an enabler is a critical factor in faster adoption of AI.
"The government is working to provide an enabling environment, where the private players and government can work together to bring the benefit of AI to all the farmers and consumers. This will also help in bringing down the price for the consumers as well as getting the best price for the farmers," he said.
Further, Bhutani said India has about 145 million farmlands with very small holding size, which is around one hectare per holder. The target of doubling farmers' income is a massive task to be achieved.
"Artificial Intelligence would play a major role in ensuring that the targets are met. There is a need for digitalisation in the agriculture sector," he noted.
Elaborating on the PMFBY, he said that since its launch, the scheme has been a radical shift in the way crop insurance is implemented in the country. It is the third biggest programme in the world after the US and China's schemes. "Technology is the way forward for implementation of the program."
Highlighting the initiatives of the government, Bhutani said the biggest challenge is to increase the production by 50 per cent over the next 20-30 years with a limited scope of increase in the farming area.
"The entire focus has shifted to using technology for managing food security and other aspects of agriculture. AI can be effectively used in soil monitoring, predictive data analytics and improving supply chain inefficiencies.
"The National e-Governance project on agriculture, which has been revisited this year, has given the focus on using information technology, AI, Machine Learning etc," he noted.
He further stated that the use of AI and digital technologies for smart crop cutting experiments will further improve the accuracy of forecasts and lead to effective implementation of the PMFBY.
According to the FICCI-PwC report, the market size of AI in agriculture is expected to reach USD 8.4 billion by 2030 from USD 0.85 billion in 2019.
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