Mahindra Agri Solutions (MASL) is committed to facilitate an age of farming that will build a new generation of farmers, innovators, scientists and agri-practitioners looking to balance productivity and economics with social and environmental considerations. As enablers of this positive change, MASL agripreneurs work towards giving farmers access to information and advisory services, a robust irrigation infrastructure and integrated value chains to enhance their practices. Through continuous learning and innovation, MASL will help steer farmers towards higher productivity levels and better rural incomes. The Krishi Jagran Team interacted with Shri Ashok Sharma, MD & CEO, MASL.
Please elaborate on the vision of Mahindra Agri Solutions.
In view of sustainable and inclusive growth of farmers, Mahindra Agri Solutions is committed to the vision of FarmTech prosperity by providing high quality agri-products as well as services. In a country like India where two-thirds of the population depends upon agriculture for their living, importance of this sector cannot be over-emphasized. It accounts for nearly 17 percent of the country’s GDP and most importantly feeds 1.3 billion people.
How do you think the Agriculture sector has evolved in India after its independence?
Over the past few decades, agriculture has witnessed different phases of growth. The first phase, which is referred to as Farming 1.O, extended from 1947 to 1966 and was characterized by revolutionary land reforms that abolished the exploitative Zamindari system. The second phase was the Green Revolution which increased India’s farm productivity manifold and eliminated our dependence on foreign food aid. Termed as Farming 2.O, this was a golden age in India’s history of agriculture. Thanks to all of this, today we are a food secure nation.
What is the status of Agriculture sector given the fact that land holdings are fast shrinking?
Presently, India’s farmlands are at a critical juncture. Our population continues to grow, placing an ever increasing strain on the sector. Not just this, our country is rapidly industrializing and the entire population is migrating to cities. Agricultural incomes are falling and India’s farmlands are in danger of being left behind.
After the phases of Farming 1.0 and 2.0, where do you think the Agricultural industry is headed in this digital era?
Today, the need has arisen for another revolution: a new phase in Indian agriculture which will be defined by Innovation and Technology; an age where we will look to balance productivity and economics with social and environmental considerations. We see this age as ushering in an era of unprecedented productivity for our fields and prosperity for our farmers. We call this revolution sweeping our farmlands today - Farming 3.0.This new age is all about disruptive innovations like Smart Farm Machinery, Micro Irrigation, Precision Farming, Digital Platforms and Partnering Stakeholders.
What are the components of Farming 3.0 and how are they aligned with the PM`s mission of doubling farmers income?
There are five key elements of Farming 3.0, which in conjunction with each other will bring in transformative changes in Agriculture, ensuring higher productivity and prosperity. These elements are:
- Smart Farm Machinery, which is all about producing more with less. Smart machines and technological breakthroughs have the potential to increase output, lower costs and boost farm incomes.
- Micro irrigation frees the farmer from vagaries of seasonal monsoon while also conserving India’s limited water resources. With agriculture consuming about 80 percent of the total renewable water resources in India, adoption of micro-irrigation practices, where water is delivered directly to the root zone of a crop, will help conserve our precious water reserves and also boost yields and farm productivity.
- Precision Farming is another innovation to watch out for. It is an approach to farm management that uses information technology to access real time data about crops, soil, weather etc. to ensure crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimum health and productivity.
- Digital Platforms have the potential to put farmers directly in touch with the end consumer. That will see the middleman frozen out of the system and farmers get full and fair price for their produce. For instance, Government is working with certain states to move APMCs – the Agricultural Produce Market Committees to the national electronic platform, eNAM for selling fruits and vegetables. Digitization of agriculture also has the power to boost productivity by putting farmers around the country in touch with each other and also with agri experts.
- Partnering stakeholders is all about collaborating with a wider ecosystem of partners and engaging them in devising solutions to the present and upcoming challenges of agriculture. This involves working with agricultural colleges, research institutions, scientists, commercial investors, grant-making organizations, key influencers, government and obviously the public at large.
Farming 3.0 is changing the narrative around agriculture from subsistence to sustainability. I believe that a strong engagement with the farmer community and investments in key technologies like micro-irrigation, crop care, advanced seeds and digital plat forms are crucial for Agri stakeholders to play an important role in this new revolution. I believe that Technology and Innovation will lay the foundation that will facilitate this new revolution - Farming 3.O, which will help realize the vision of Doubling Farmers’ Income and delivering FarmTech Prosperity.