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Karnataka to Use Tech to Improve Farm Productivity

BENGALURU: To improve farm productivity and ensure better prices for farmers, Karnataka is trying to use technology. Among other steps, it is encouraging startups that work on technologies that cut out middlemen in agricultural marketing and provide real-time weather and other data that can help improve food production.

Agriculture minister Krishna Byre Gowda sais, "We are seeing a huge technology gap in production and marketing. Conventional methodologies are hurting the sector."

Cropin, a seven-year-old startup based in Bengaluru, provides weather data and agriculture solutions directly to the farmer producer organisations (FPOs). The project was started on a pilot basis in two districts of the state. Cropin co-founder Kunal Prasad said, "We had a successful experiment, and are now utilizing the same mechanism in another two districts of Andhra Pradesh."

The founder of Mandi Traders, Edwin Varghese, who has been at the forefront of technology to market agricultural products, believes there is a lot of opportunity in assuring farmers stability in sales.

Gowda ruled out any red tapeism and he said the government is in talks with the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) for starting a centre for excellence to boost agricultural startups and provide the requisite technology to increase farmers revenue and production capacity.

The minister said, "The NCBS, hopefully, should provide much-needed hand-holding for startups and give companies a direct link with farmers."

To develop an agricultural commodity price forecasting model, with the objective of enabling farmers to better predict prices, the government also recently entered into an understanding with ICRISAT and Microsoft. For this season, the prediction model will be applied to the tur crop.

The project expects to touch 10,000 farmers this year. ICRISAT and Microsoft are also building advisories for fertiliser and pesticide use, and for harvest and post-harvest practices, for each region, depending on its specificities.


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