Potential Benefits and Concerns of Digital Agriculture

Digital farming

The government is developing a digital “stack” of agricultural datasets, including land records at its heart. The apps developed above the pile will give farmers advice on what seeds to buy and the best techniques for increasing production, as well as weather, agricultural loans, crop insurance and other information. According to the government, this will also help increase farmers’ incomes and improve the efficiency of the agricultural sector.

However, such a centralized stack will rely on outdated and flawed land records; Farmers’ personal and financial information will be used in the absence of strict data protection regulations, and rural areas have a low level of digital literacy. As a result, experts said IndiaSpending, such AgriStack‘ is problematic.

What is “Emerald”?

It is a set of technological and digital databases for farmers and the agricultural sector. AgriStack will provide a uniform platform for farmers to deliver end-to-end services along the agricultural food value chain.

It aims to provide greater impetus for digitizing data in India, ranging from land titles to medical records. Each farmer will receive a unique digital identification (Farmer ID Card) under the program, which will include personal information, information about the land they farm, as well as productivity and financial information.

Each ID will be linked to the individual’s Aadhaar ID.

What are the potential benefits of Emerald?

Insufficient access to credit and information, insect infestations, crop waste, poor price discovery and yield predictions can all be adequately addressed by the application of digital technology. It will also stimulate innovation and investment in the agricultural industry, and support the search for more resistant crops.

What are the concerns related to the implementation of Emerald?

Absence of data protection legislation: Without regulation, this could end up being an exercise in which private data processors know more about a farmer’s land than the farmer does, and they are allowed to use the information of farmers to the extent they wish.

Marketing: The establishment of ‘Emerald‘ would involve the commercialization of agricultural extension activities as they move into the digital and private sphere.

Lack of dispute resolution: the MoUs provide for a physical verification of digitally collected land data, but there is no mention of what would happen in the event of a disagreement, especially since historical evidence shows that land disputes can take years to resolve.

Privacy and Disclaimer Matters: Since the proposed farmer ID would be seeded by Aadhaar, additional privacy and exclusion issues may arise. In addition, the use of land records as the basis for the database of farmers will exclude sharecroppers, sharecroppers and agricultural workers.

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