Drone Technology, the Real Game Changer for Agri Sector: Dhanashree Mandhani

Drone Technology, the Real Game Changer for Agri Sector: Dhanashree Mandhani
Dhanashree Mandhani, Founder & CEO - Salam Kisan

For many years, agriculture has been the lifeblood of India's economy, and the country has reaped substantial rewards from this sector. Various creative solutions have embedded themselves in this area, which is currently undergoing technological advancement. The ever-increasing population and the steady loss of farmable land make these sorts of improvements vital. An exclusive interview with Dhanashree Mandhani, Founder & CEO of Salam Kisan, was conducted by StartupTalky to provide a comprehensive overview of the technological advancements taking place in the country's agricultural industry.

What are the future developments in technology that will drive the Indian agriculture sector?

Ms. Dhanashree: The agricultural sector is currently experiencing a transformative shift, driven by the integration of advanced technologies aimed at enhancing sustainability and revolutionizing traditional farming methods. This encompasses a broad spectrum of digitalization and automation processes, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and virtual and augmented reality.

At the forefront of this digital revolution is agritech, which is rapidly gaining prominence and catalyzing significant advancements across various facets of agriculture. Technological innovations are elevating agricultural activities, leading to substantial improvements in efficiency and productivity. Notably, mechanization has streamlined crucial processes like tilling and harvesting, resulting in a significant reduction in manual labor.

Furthermore, the adoption of technology is reshaping irrigation methods and revolutionizing transportation systems within the agricultural landscape. From the implementation of precision irrigation techniques to the enhancement of transportation logistics, these advancements are collectively contributing to increased productivity, improved resource efficiency, and overall sustainability in the agricultural sector.

Looking specifically at the Indian context, these transformative developments hold the potential to revolutionize the country's agriculture, making it more sustainable, productive, and resilient in the face of existing challenges. However, the successful implementation of these technologies necessitates collaborative efforts among government bodies, private enterprises, and farmers. Additionally, addressing infrastructure and connectivity challenges in rural areas is crucial for ensuring the widespread adoption and effectiveness of these advancements. Through concerted efforts and strategic partnerships, the agricultural industry in India can undergo a comprehensive and positive transformation, aligning with global trends in smart and sustainable farming practices.

Will the agribusiness sector also be impacted by the rising popularity of robotics?

Ms. Dhanashree: As robotics gains traction, the Indian agribusiness industry is positioned for a technological revolution. Robotics has the potential to completely transform the agricultural industry by providing accuracy and efficiency to a wide range of activities. Robotics adoption offers the potential to significantly improve productivity, reduce labor costs, and ensure operational precision for agribusinesses in a nation where agriculture is the backbone of the economy.

However, an elaborate plan is needed for the effective integration of robotics in agribusiness. It is necessary to take into account factors like the initial investment cost, the requirement for specialized training, and the smooth integration with current systems. To match these technological developments with the unique requirements and difficulties faced by the Indian agribusiness community, cooperation between technology providers and the agricultural sector stakeholders is essential.

What are the major challenges while embedding tech into agri sector?

Ms. Dhanashree: While using technology in farming has many advantages, it also comes with challenges. Some farmers, especially those who follow traditional methods, may be hesitant to use new technologies. This resistance can be due to cultural and generational factors, as some farmers might not be familiar with or unsure about the benefits that technology can bring to their farming.

To overcome these challenges, we need a comprehensive approach. This includes building better infrastructure, like internet access and electricity so that farmers can use technology more easily. Educational programs can help farmers understand how to use these new tools effectively. Ensuring the security of their data is also important to gain their trust. Financial support can assist farmers in affording the initial costs of adopting technology. Lastly, clear and effective communication is key to building trust and encouraging more farmers to embrace technology in their farming practices.

 a. Accessibility and Affordability: One of the primary challenges is ensuring that small and marginal farmers, who constitute a significant portion of India's farming community, have access to these technologies. Affordability and user-friendly interfaces are crucial factors to consider.

 b. Infrastructure: The digital divide and inadequate rural infrastructure, including power supply and internet connectivity, pose significant challenges. Bridging this gap is essential to enable the seamless integration of technology into farming practices.

 c. Education and Awareness: Familiarity with and understanding of modern technologies are not uniform across all segments of the farming community. Educational programs and awareness campaigns are vital to facilitate the adoption of these technologies.

 d. Data Security and Privacy: With the increasing reliance on data-driven technologies, ensuring the security and privacy of farmer data is paramount. Clear policies and robust cybersecurity measures need to be in place.

 e. Regulatory Frameworks: Developing supportive and adaptive regulatory frameworks is essential. This includes policies that encourage innovation, address concerns related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and streamline the approval process for new technologies.

Considering the Indian agricultural landscape, characterized by its diversity in crops, climates, and farming practices, any technological solution must be versatile and customizable to suit the varied needs of farmers across different regions. Collaborative efforts between the government, private sector, and research institutions are instrumental in overcoming these challenges and driving a technology-led agricultural transformation in India.

Govt is strongly pushing tech into agri sector to increase productivity and quality. How is this step being taken by the key players and how this will change the face of agri industry?

A revolution in the agricultural sector has been driven by the government's push for technology integration in agriculture. To increase productivity and assure the quality of agricultural produce, significant companies are responding by making advances in cutting-edge technology like artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and robotics. An innovative ecosystem is being built by a rising number of collaborations with technology-related businesses and educational institutions.

This deliberate push to adopt technology in the Indian setting is likely to bring about a significant change in the agriculture sector. It could improve supply chain management, reduce waste, make agricultural practices more sustainable, and enhance farmers' quality of living. The agri industry in India is evolving into a tech-enabled landscape, where data-driven decision-making and precision agriculture are becoming integral to the farming ecosystem.

What is your take on drone technology and what further upgrades are required in this?

Drone technology has been a game-changer in Indian agriculture, providing farmers with real-time data that helps them make educated decisions. Drones have become crucial for precision agriculture, pest management, and crop monitoring; this is especially true in India, where there is a wide variety of methods used in agriculture.

Ongoing improvements are necessary to maximize the impact of drone technology in Indian agriculture. Technological developments in sensors are essential for more precise data collection, longer battery life for longer operation, and better automation features. Ensuring accessibility and addressing regulations would be crucial to strengthening the advantages of drone technology in the Indian agriculture industry, especially for small and marginal farmers.

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