The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 urge all stakeholders to take necessary actions to end hunger (Goal 1), double agricultural productivity of small-scale food producers by 2030 (Goal 2, Target 2.3) and promote policies that support entrepreneurship (Goal 8, Target 8.3).
India is an agrarian country. Indian agriculture accounts for almost 14 per cent of GDP and employs 52 per cent of the population. It is very important but underperforming sector. To meet the forthcoming demand and challenges, we need to develop and adopt new eco-friendly technologies for increasing our crop productivity. Since long, it has been recognized that crops and soils are not uniform within a given field. Over the last decade, various technical methods have been developed utilizing modern electronics to respond to field variability. This includes geographic positioning system (GPS)-based agriculture, site-specific and precision farming (precision agriculture) which includes computer-oriented technologies, agricultural decision support software, sensors and monitoring systems, GPS and mapping systems, predictive modelling technologies, and unmanned aerial surveillance (UAS) and imaging, etc.
The potential of precision farming for economic and environmental benefits could be visualized through reduced use of agricultural inputs such as water, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Instead of managing an entire field based upon some hypothetical average condition, which may not exist anywhere in the field, a precision farming approach recognizes site-specific variability and requirements within fields and adjusts management actions accordingly. Precision Agriculture offers the potential to automate and simplify the collection and analysis of information. It allows management decisions to be made and quickly implemented on small areas within larger fields.
The Government of India has also launched a number of Initiatives in this direction. The Soil Health Card Scheme is one such major initiative under which soil samples of individual farmers are tested and analysed in various soil testing labs to determine nutritional status and make crop-wise recommendations of fertilisers to enable them to achieve higher productivity.
While government is doing it’s utmost to assist the farmers in improving farm productivity through efficient use of agricultural inputs, young entrepreneur and start-ups too can play a pivotal role in this national endeavor by developing and commercializing low cost, easy to use devices and diagnostics linked to Smartphone apps for on the spot soil and plant health assessment. Increasing productivity and sustainability of agriculture depends, to a very large extent, on engaging young people in the sector, drawing on their energy and innovations.
In order to engage, encourage and facilitate efforts of young educated minds, BIRAC announces a Call for Proposals for individuals, entrepreneurs and start-ups in the field of Soil and Plant health assessment.
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