Digital Agristack – UPSC GS3

  • Agriculture Ministry is developing a digital Agristack.
  • The project will collect granular data to provide growers with a range of customized services like what to plant, where to sell, market information on price movements, and linkages to formal credit arrangements.
  • Each farmer will be provided a unique farmer’s ID, which will be linked to her Aadhaar number.
  • It will contain details related to land ownership, the crops she grows, soil health and the benefits available under government schemes such as direct cash transfers, crop insurance and subsidized credit.
Significance of Agristack:
  • The stack will fuel innovation and support several value-added services.
  • It would curtail information anomalies and allow farmers to effectively plan what and how much to produce.
  • It would breed investment towards the agricultural sector and augment research towards more resilient crops.
  • It would enable use of Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) on large datasets. This will not only support farm management but can also help develop and design new crop protection products.
  • It would be used by insurance firms to do effective crop loss assessment. This would result in prudent settlement of claims and rationalisation of future premiums.
Concerns associated with Agristack:
  • Linking land ownership data with Aadhaar may hit a roadblock because the process of digitizing land records is still under progress in India. Further land disputes account for more than 60% of all civil litigation.
  • A blind reliance on technology may lead to exclusion errors as observed in other welfare programmes like the food subsidy scheme.
  • Accessibility of data is another issue as big players can easily access it while small farmers are excluded due to digital divide. Further, if the same data ends up solely in the hands of a set of large traders, it could help them manipulate markets.
  • It can be used by large corporations to encourage unnecessary purchase by the farmers. They can then sell farmers everything from chemicals to credit and pare their own current marketing and human resource costs.
  • Accuracy of data may be questionable as capturing high quality data on crops and soil conditions from India’s 150 million land parcels is not an easy task.
  • The revenue model of private firms working on pilot projects is still not clear. They may sell farmers data and breach their privacy.
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