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Palakkadan Matta Rice scripts a success story in Kerala by using digital market

Palakkadan Matta Rice scripts a success story in Kerala by using digital market

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  • GS 3 || Economy || Agriculture || Agricultural R&D

Why in news?

Palakkadan Matta Scripts

Background:

  • It was hardly about two years ago, a graduate from Indian Institute of Management-Kozhikode (IIMK) had started a website and android app to sell the famous brown Palakkadan matta rice grown on his 10-acre farm.
  • The website (dakshfarm.com) and the android app (available on Google Play) have become instant hits and Prabhal Mohandas, the new age farmer, is now selling the rice directly to buyers across the country without worrying about distributors and middle men.
  • He sells 150-200 kg organically grown rice per month for Rs 100 per kg.

Present Context:

  • Rice bowl of Palakkad district: Though generally paddy cultivation is in decline in the earlier rice bowl of Palakkad district and the area of cultivation is shrinking, many educated youngsters are entering the field of agriculture by cultivating Palakkadan matta and finding buyers for it even beyond the geographical boundaries.
  • Palakadan matta: The new craze for Palakadan matta began seven years ago when it got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for being a rice variety with a distinct taste.
  • Under the registry, there are 10 varieties of the Palakkadan matta: Aryan, Aruvakkari, Chitteni, Chenkazhama, Chettadi, Thavalakanna, Eruppu, Poochamban, Vattan Jyothy, and Kunjukunj.
  • It was only in the Onam season, UK-educated engineer Roy George and his brother Robin George, an MBA holder from Australia, had harvested Palakkad matta they cultivated in a leased 300 acres farm land.
  • They have marketed the organically cultivated rice through a rice distribution company owned by their family.

Agriculture technology and its importance:

  • “ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and data ecosystems to support the development and delivery of timely, targeted information and services to make farming profitable and sustainable while providing safe, nutritious, and affordable food for all,” according to the definition of digital agriculture.
  • Agricultural biotechnology encompasses a variety of strategies, including traditional breeding, that alter living organisms or sections of organisms in order to create or modify goods, better plants or animals, or produce microbes for specific agricultural use.
  • When compared to traditional cultivation techniques such as agroforestry, intercropping, crop rotation, and so on, precision agriculture (PA) is an approach in which inputs are used in precise amounts to boost average yields. It is based on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).
  • Data measurement using digital and wireless technologies, weather monitoring, robotics/drone technology, and so on.

Benefits of Agri and technology:

  • Increases the productivity of agriculture.
  • Assists in the prevention of soil degradation.
  • Reduces the use of chemicals in crop cultivation.
  • Water resources are used efficiently.
  • Disseminates current agriculture practises in order to enhance production quality, quantity, and cost.
  • Farmers’ socioeconomic standing has altered.

Challenges:

  • High capital costs deter farmers from adopting digital farming methods.
  • Modest Land Holdings: Indian farms are generally small, with the most frequent being 1-2 acre farm holdings. In India, agricultural land leasing under various forms is also very common.
  • Practices of Renting and Sharing: Due to a lack of financial resources and small agricultural plots, renting and sharing platforms for equipment and machinery such as tractors and harvesters are preferred over outright purchases.
  • Illiteracy in Rural Areas: The lack of basic computer literacy stymies e-rapid agriculture’s expansion.

Government Initiative:

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare intends to create ‘AgriStack,’ a collection of technology-based agricultural solutions. It will build a unified platform for farmers that will give them end-to-end services along the agriculture food value chain.
  • The government has launched the Digital Agriculture Mission from 2021 to 2025 to fund initiatives based on new technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, remote sensing and GIS technology, and the use of drones and robots, among others.
  • Unified Farmer Service Platform (UFSP): UFSP is a set of core infrastructure, data, applications, and tools that allow for seamless interoperability of public and private IT systems in the agriculture ecosystem across the country. The UFSP is expected to fulfil the following functions:
    • Assume the role of a central agency in the agricultural ecology (like UPI in the e Payments)
    • Allows public and private service providers, as well as farmer services, to be registered.
    • During the service delivery process, it enforces different rules and validations.
    • Serves as a central repository for all relevant standards, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), and formats.
    • Act as a conduit for data sharing between various schemes and services, allowing for full service delivery to farmers.
  • Agriculture National e-Government Plan (NeGP-A): It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme that was first introduced in 2010-11 in seven pilot states with the goal of achieving quick growth in India through the use of ICT to provide farmers with timely access to agriculture-related information.
    • The scheme was expanded for the remaining States and two UTs in 2014-15.
  • Kisan Call Centers, Kisan Suvidha App, Agri Market App, Soil Health Card (SHC) Portal, and other digital initiatives.

Conclusion:

Rice farming is an important aspect of Indian agriculture, with the crop being grown in more than half of the country’s states. It is the source of livelihood for a major percentage of the agricultural community, as well as food for a greater portion of the population. As a result, there is a compelling need to protect the crop from difficulties such as water scarcity, labour shortages, and so on. Given the enormous stakes, any new technology introduced into rice farming must be handled with extreme caution. The DSR approach is a solution to short-term issues.

Mains oriented question:

The northern granary states’ governments wanted to employ the Direct Seeding of Rice method to preserve rice planting in the face of severe labour shortages caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Examine the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy versus the usual method. (250 words)