Eric Marx reports on apps such as Plantix and the Sowing App, which are helping smallholders achieve optimal harvests in some of the harshest growing areas on the planet
As digitisation rolls across India, some see the dawning of a second green revolution in the agricultural sector. Whether, how, and with what success it will affect the lives of India's poorest and most marginal farmers – so-called smallholders, who typically work just over a hectare of land and account for roughly 65% of India’s population – is still an open question.
“India is a very interesting place to be working on digital agriculture because there are so many agri-tech companies getting involved,” says Anthony Whitbread, a research programme director of drylands innovation systems at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), an international non-profit based in India that has been experimenting with the latest in digital technologies in dryland regions across south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
India is a very interesting place to be working on digital agriculture
Up to now there have been few examples of large-scale impact that have been immediately useful for smallholders.
One is the Plantix App, which uses image recognition technology and self-learning algorithms to enable real-time monitoring of pests and diseases. Another is the Sowing App, which helps farmers achieve optimal harvests by advising on the best time...