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January 2021

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jan 2021

According to the World Bank's most recent statistics - India's rural population is 66% of the total population (2019); 41% of the total employment is involved in agriculture and farming (2020); Agriculture, forestry, and fishing, value added, contribute 16% to India's GDP (2019). Moreover, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (fao.org) says , 'Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is the largest source of livelihoods in India. 70% of its rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82% of farmers being small and marginal.' Considering these statistics it is evident that India is substantially dependant on agrarian economy. The sector is looking for transition from an inefficient, unorganized and archaic one, that pushes farmers to commit suicide, to more modern with incorporation of technology and scientific methodologies, to make it profitable and sustainable to the agricultural community. The recent protest of the farmers at such a large scale has also brought the need of handling any transformation in the sector with caution and is to be carried out in a peaceful and democratic way by taking into confidence those who are affected the most with any policy change. The need for consultation and understanding is the only way to bring the needed evolution of the agricultural sector and make it thrive. Digitization and varied use of technology is a step that pushes agricultural economy towards this goal. NITI Aayog's report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) says that to maintain annual growth rate of 8-10%, agriculture must grow at 4% or higher. Technologies that can be applied include those on the farming side like sensor-assisted soil assessment, automated monitoring of free-ranging animals on pastures, targeted control of agricultural machinery, use of high quality seeds, optimum and measured use of fertilizers and pesticides, modern farming equipment and methods, scientific approach to agriculture etc, and there are technologies that need to be applied post-production, from farm to the market, like digitization in farm product management, supply chain management, logistics, Mandis and retail selling etc. This will lead to better produce with agri-waste reduction and efficiency in cost optimization. The three most essential elements that would lay the foundation of digitization in agriculture would include - Internet of Things (IoT); Nanotechnology; Digital Education. There are two most important technology related concepts in farming - 'Precision Farming' involves creating new production and management techniques that make intensive and efficient use of data regarding a specific location and crop; 'Smart Farming' or 'Farming 4.0' is the application of information and data technologies for optimising complex farming systems. To implement these concepts at a large scale in India's massive agriculture sector comes up with many challenges that need to be overcome - Digital divide; Lack of farmer literacy; Lack of financial resources particularly in case of small and medium farmers; Interruptions in rural power supply. Even though government and private sector knows the potential of digitization and technological transformation, major challenge is to involve farmers in the process by creating proper awareness and showcasing the benefits of technology-enabled agriculture. Government and private sector have already initiated the various projects in this regard like for example Microsoft has developed an 'AI-Sowing App', in collaboration with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT), that sends advisory to the farmers regarding the optimal date of seed-sowing; NITI Aayog has partnered with IBM to develop a crop yield prediction model backed by AI to provide real-time data and communicate the required advisory to farmers; 'Blue River' project has designed and integrated computer vision with machine learning technology that will help cultivators to reduce the use of fertilisers and herbicides by spraying only where and when needed. Government projects in digitization include - Kisan Suvidha, Pusa Krishi, Farm-o-pedia App, Crop Insurance Android App, Agri-Market, M-Kisan Application, Shetkari Masik Android App etc. Read on...

Businessworld: Digitisation In Agriculture: A Necessity For India
Author: Urvi Shrivastav


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jan 2021

More and more educators and experts are advocating inclusion of design and creativity focused subjects in the mainstream school level curriculum. In a webinar titled, 'Why Design Education is Important for Odisha', educators and policymakers discussed the value of design education in India and specifically for the state of Odisha. Prof. Pradyumna Vyas, Senior Advisor of Design and Innovation at Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and former Director of National Institute of Design (NID) at Ahmedabad, says, 'We are in the fourth industrial revolution. Everything is merging with the other and as such design education can't be thought of in isolation. While the dependence on technology has been rapidly increasing, we have been losing touch on a human level. But the focus has to be on people. It should be remembered that technology is just an enabler, humanising that tech is design. If the pandemic has shown anything, it is that human beings can't be ignored.' Dr. Amar Patnaik, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), says, 'There is a need to mainstream design education and for that, it should be started at the school level. A curriculum should be built to incorporate design education as well. Design should be approached holistically and therefore it needs to be taught at the grassroot level and not during adulthood when it needs to be applied.' Prof. G. V. Sreekumar, former Head of the Industrial Design Centre (IDC) at IIT Bombay, says, 'There is a need to merge design with science, technology and art and looked at as a whole...More than a mere design school, the need is to build a design research center.' Prof. Paresh Choudhury, Founder of Odisha Design Council and former Head of National Institute of Design (NID) in Andhra Pradesh (AP), proposed the need to set up a design school in Odisha. Odisha Design Council (ODC) is a social nonprofit enterprise that intends to spread education, research and development and innovation in the field of design. Read on...

edexlive.com: Design education must be taught at the grassroot level: Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Amar Patnaik
Author: Bidushi Das



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