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Ashok Sharma

Ashok Sharma - President – Agriculture Sector, MD & CEO – Mahindra Agri Solutions Ltd.

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An Era of Digital Disruption and Innovation in the Agriculture industry

Agriculture industry has been undergoing a paradigm shift over the last few years, having been transformed from being farmer-led to executive-led, giving a large scope to professional talent!

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Agriculture industry which was sized at around Rs. 23 lakh crore in 2015 is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 8% to Rs. 36 lakh crore by 2021. As in any industry, with this kind of growth, the complexities increase and that is probably the reason why Agri industry is adopting many corporate business practices like customer management, demand forecasting, supply chain management, digital marketing etc. Additionally, economies of scale are becoming more and more important and are driving the industry towards more organized and formal set ups. This is perhaps creating a shift from being a farmer or individual led to business/executive led Industry.

Given the number of opportunities in the agriculture space, ranging from soil management, productivity improvement, water management, post-harvest management, advisory services and many more, young talent is being nurtured and is happily taking up farming as a career. Today, farming as a profession is no longer being looked upon as monotonous and labour intensive.

Amongst the many significant new-age trends, one revolutionising this industry is digital disruption, with both government as well as private sector leveraging this shift to bring in efficiencies by serving the farmers and customers in a more disintermediated way. Today, we are seeing a lot of young entrepreneurs coming up with start-ups with path-breaking ideas, challenging the traditional way of operating in the agri space. The digital medium is being leveraged to provide advisory services to the farmers through agri advisory platforms which work as integrated networks for all the information related to a crop at one place. As ‘smart’ farming increasingly becomes the norm, the industry will need an army of skilled professionals with a wide range of competencies to tend to the burgeoning ecosystem around it.

Apart from the digital transformation, in order to enhance the productivity, the entire agri value chain is also evolving. On the input side, companies are putting in a lot of thrust on R&D to get improved & advanced seeds and biological agrochemicals. There are many new technologies like Aeroponics, Hydroponics, and Protected Cultivation etc. that are gaining traction. On the foods side, with the health, wellness and ‘Clean Label’ movement becoming more and more important, advanced non-thermal processing technologies are making headway and are changing the entire space.

With the entire industry undergoing this paradigm shift, I believe professionals have to be very quick in constantly responding to these trends and largely to the ever-changing world, in order to succeed in such times. They have to keep upskilling themselves and be innovative to grow in the organization. Industry needs ideas people who can plot breakthroughs to unleash the potential of the sector.

In order to help farmers improve their productivity by helping them adopt new-age technologies, best practices and innovative farming methods, professionals in this industry need to understand the space and thus, it is advisable to have a strong domain knowledge.

There’s a need for Agriculture professionals today to work as agripreneurs; with an entrepreneurial mindset of thinking big, collaborating and at the same time taking ownership, coupled with strong domain expertise.

I would conclude by saying that the potential in this industry is huge. A lot of positive developments are happening, given government’s thrust on building this sector. Digital acumen, big data management, customer connect, dealing with ambiguity, and disruptive innovation are some of the new skill sets which professionals who aspire to work in this industry need to acquire. The industry is opening up a slew of opportunities and professionals should participate in this encouraging change by striving towards Delivering FarmTech Prosperity through their innovative thinking and strong domain knowledge.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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Digital disruption Agriculture industry

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