Telangana to leverage emerging technologies for innovation in agriculture

The Telangana government is collaborating with C4IR India, the World Economic Forum, and a cross-section of the agritech industry and the start-up community to explore the potential of deploying emerging technologies for making a difference to the agriculture sector in the state, a statement said on Tuesday.

This has been done under the flagship initiative, termed as AI4AI (Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture Innovation), which was launched by Industry and Information Technology Minister K.T. Rama Rao in August last year.

The AI4AI initiative resulted in the identification of 9 frameworks and 30 use cases along four parts of the agriculture value chain — crop planning, smart farming, farmgate-to-fork, and data-driven agriculture.

With a view to realize the benefits envisaged by the AI4AI initiative, a project called ‘Saagu Baagu’ (which means agricultural advancement) has been conceptualised with a vision “to transform the state of agriculture by deploying emerging technologies in a scalable, inclusive and sustainable way”.

The envisioned scale of the project is to touch at least 100,000 farmers over four crop cycles and establish enough readiness to scale it across the state. The Saagu Baagu Project is being led by the Agriculture Department with support from the state’s Agricultural University (PJTSAU), the ITE&C Department, and the World Economic Forum.

The state government has prepared a request for expression of interest (EoI) that will be released in a couple of weeks. The objective of the EoI shall be to onboard suitable Project Implementation Partners (PIPs) and their consortia of leading agri ecosystem players, to prove and establish the transformation potential of innovative technological solutions along the agri value chain. The project shall be implemented on the principle – ‘Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast’.

While the overall Saagu Baagu project is planned to be a 5-year focused effort, the PIPs onboarded under the EoI shall be confined to 2 years (3-4 crop cycles) across multiple districts of select priority crops such as cotton, chilli, and turmeric for Kharif season and groundnut, Bengal gram, and paddy for Rabi.

Each PIP along with its consortium shall have to propose at least 5 distinct use-cases across any crop value chain to ensure a holistic deployment is undertaken and not just a conventional single use-case pilot approach.

“In order to truly improve the lives of farmer, adoption of technology is the only sustainable approach and the same shall be facilitated under our Saagu Baagu Project,” Principal Secretary, ITE&C, Jayesh Ranjan said.

Agriculture is a priority sector for Telangana. An estimated 5 million farmers with an average landholding size of 2.77 acres (1.12 hectares) cultivate 40.53 per cent of the state’s geography, that is 115 lakh acres (46.54 lakh hectares), and contributed 14.6 per cent to the state’s GSDP in 2018-19.