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How is the Indian Government using IoT and AI in Agriculture

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21 December 2022, New Delhi: The Indian Government has taken up various activities using the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in agriculture. Some of the applications of AI and IoT in Agriculture are in the areas of Precision Farming, Agricultural Drones and Hopping systems, Livestock Monitoring, Monitor Climate Conditions, Smart Greenhouses, AI and IoT-based Computer imaging, etc.

National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS)

The Department of Science & Technology (DST) is implementing a National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS). Under the Mission, 25 Technology Innovation Hubs (TIHs) have been set up in premier institutes of national importance across the country in advanced technology verticals.

Three of these TIHs are involved in the applications of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Agriculture to carry out research, translation, and technology development for various technologies including IoT and AI, namely (i) Technology and Innovation Foundation in the technology vertical of “Technologies for Agriculture and Water” set up at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Ropar, (ii) TIH Foundation of IoT and Internet of Everything (IoE) in the technology vertical of “Technologies for Internet of Things and Internet for Everything” set up at IIT Bombay (iii) AI4ICPS Foundation in the technology vertical “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning” set up at IIT Kharagpur. 

The work/activities taken by the above 3 institutes are given below: 

IIT Ropar-Technology and Innovation Foundation is working towards IoT-based devices and sensors that are being introduced to saffron production and supply all over India.

Precision Agriculture and Soil Parameters Monitoring

TIH Foundation of IoT and IOE is executing a project of effective and efficient agriculture technology, which aims to develop an end-to-end solution for Agriculture Technology (Agri Tech) to predict crop production in the season. EAgriS is an IoT-based platform developed for this purpose. As an application of IoT in Precision Agriculture, the TIH focuses on Aerial Robotics for Soil Parameters Monitoring, Drone based Imaging, and Drone-based spraying. For the application of AI in Precision Agriculture, the focus of TIH is to develop a predictive data analysis model to make intelligent decisions based on ambient conditions (temperature, humidity, wind speed, and direction rainfall), soil parameters (moisture, temperature, electrical conductivity, pH, NPK, Sulphur) and leaf wetness.

AI4ICPS Foundation is developing AI-based technologies for Precision Agriculture, Predictive and Forecasting models using AI for Crop Health Monitoring and Soil Health Monitoring.

Under the Digital India initiatives, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) along with NASSCOM and state governments has set up Centres of Excellence on the Internet of Things at Bengaluru, Gurugram, Gandhi Nagar, and Visakhapatnam. One of the objectives of these centers is to enable India to emerge as an innovation hub in IoT through the democratization of innovation and the realization of prototypes. One of the focus areas of Centres of Excellence on IoT at Visakhapatnam is Agri-tech and it connects various entities such as startups, enterprises, venture capitalists, government, and academia.

Under the National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGPA) program under the Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare funding is given to State Governments for Digital Agriculture projects using emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML), Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, etc.

A program called “Innovation and Agri-Entrepreneurship Development” has been in operation under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) since 2018-19 to promote innovation and agripreneurship by providing financial support and nurturing the incubation ecosystem. Start-ups in agriculture and allied sectors are being encouraged to contribute directly and indirectly to enhance the income of farmers by providing opportunities to them and to provide employment to youth. In this connection, five (5) Knowledge Partners (KPs) and twenty-four (24) Agribusiness Incubators (R-ABIs) have been appointed by this Department to advise on the smooth and efficient execution of this program in various States across the country. The details are in Annexure -I.

Promoting Startups 

Start-ups under the program are taking up projects in various fields of agriculture and allied sectors like Agro-processing, Food Technology & Value Addition, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Information & Communication Technology (ICT), Block Chain Technology (BCT), precision farming and Digital agriculture, Block Chain technology, Agri. Logistics, Value & Supply chain management, Online/virtual platform, Agri. Extension, Agri. Inputs, Farm mechanization &  innovations, Organic farming & products, Natural Resource Management, Renewable Energy, Waste to Wealth, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Dairy, Secondary agriculture, etc.

So far, 1102 start-ups operating in agriculture and allied sectors have been selected and Rs. 66.83 crores has been released in installments. These start-ups were trained for two months at various agribusiness incubation centers i.e KPs &R-ABIs before providing financial assistance.

The Institutes under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have initiated work on the application of IoT and AI in agriculture. A list of activities initiated is given in Annexure II.

Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC)

Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC) has conducted a few pilot studies under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana using innovative technologies for crop yield estimation through various Government and Private Agencies. During 2019-20, pilot studies were conducted envisaging space technologies through 12 agencies in 64 districts of 15 States for 9 crops, while these approaches were validated in Rabi 2019-20 in 15 blocks of 6 States. Further, during 2020-21, the pilot studies were scaled up to 100 districts spread over 9 states of the country, with the help of 7 agencies for paddy crops in Kharif 2020, which continued in Rabi 2020-21 for Rabi Rice and wheat crop.  

Various technologies viz., Satellite, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Simulation models, IoT devices, and AI/ML techniques were used in the study to derive the yield estimates at the Gram Panchayat level.

Also Read: South Dakota Farmer Wins Pivot Bio’s Ultimate Farm Truck

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