Technology’s role in rural development and financial inclusion is an important topic of the CAIIB elective’s subject Rural banking, find free study material for CAIIB 2024 exam, here. 

The use of intensive farming technologies has also been made possible by digital technology, as well as remote access to knowledge and group collaboration.

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Farmers may have access to information about the condition of their soils through the government’s universal soil health card programme, which can be used to determine how best to allocate resources. This system will bring transformational changes to the cost of cultivation/production and sustainability of farms, as it can be compared against a large database and spectral analysis can be done in the cloud.

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The employment of technology can boost agricultural output

Even though a significant portion of agricultural land is still rainfed, a little under 50% of agriculture is currently carried out under irrigated conditions. This is being improved by utilising techniques including protected cultivation systems, fertigation, and micro-irrigation.

The next stage of interventions will heavily rely on specialised sensors to assess soil moisture and composition, to send signals to actuators that control sluices and pumps, and to initiate a controlled flow of water with the exact dosage of nutrients; all of this can be done without an immediate human interface. With this method, water resource use will be optimised. 

In protected cultivation, sensor-based systems are also utilised to track internal humidity and illumination conditions and automatically activate fan-pad systems, lighting modifications, etc.


Growth potential using Digital technology 

These are well-known applications that result from the fusion of digital technology and industrial hardware. They are widely utilised in agriculture and have had a significant impact on how growth in the sector is achieved.

    1. Agriculture Satellite imaging, infrared imagery, and a variety of other remote inputs are now readily available, enabling more precise weather forecasts and early pest infestation alerts.
    2. Other digital technology-based approaches for identifying and managing farm assets, such as geo-tagging of land, bio-tagging of livestock, bar-coding of planting materials, etc.
    3. A crucial first step is to implement Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to farmers that are digitalized, as well as to create a comprehensive digital database of farmers for the government to use when conducting development and promotion programmes.

Components of technology 

  • Remote sensing

Remote sensing uses visible, near-infrared, and shortwave infrared sensors to form images of the earth’s surface, detect and identify heat signatures of planted crops and animals, and use ocean temperature maps to identify coastal productive zones.

Some of the key applications of remote sensing in the advancement of production are as follows:

  1. Move beyond sonar
  2. Ocean temperature mapping to show upwelling and chlorophyll distribution 
  3. Identification of coastal productive zones
  4. Detection of shoals of surface swimming fish, etc, using side-looking airborne radar 
  5. Crop cultivation with the assistance of remote satellite or drone-based imagery, also helps in crop classification.
  6. Estimation of acreage under cultivation
  7. Arriving at production estimates
  8. Evaluation of crop losses and the spread of disease 
  9. Monitoring biodiversity
  10. detect and identify heat signatures of planted crops and animal
  11. Assessment of the impact of agroecology, etc.
  • GIS (Geographical identification system)

The Geographical Information System (GIS) is a special platform that enables one to work with multiple data that are linked to a spatially mapped location or area. GIS typically consists of a set of computer tools.

Let’s analyse the key applications of GIS in the field of production.

  1. Data collection: The collection of data on crop acreage, production, crop health, and disease can be correctly portrayed using GIS tools and analytics. A geo-database of farmers can also be kept up to date.
  2. Information: Early awareness of the crop status in the growing season is more crucial than learning the precise production figures once the crop is harvested.
  3. Identification and taking measures: The ability to identify and measure the physical and biological stresses that have an impact on the production of crops has improved thanks to research and cutting-edge technology in the field of remote sensing. Drones can be used to perform field studies to track the health of crops, irrigation, pesticide control, planting, etc.

Big data analytics

  • Blockchain technology

Big data can be used to transform the agricultural value system by:

  1. Unearthing previously hidden patterns
  2. Providing a correlation between activities, and understanding management and governance mechanisms 

Challenges include:

  1. Collecting and collating data
  2. Data storage
  3. Rights to the data and data analysis, querying, and transfer

However, government agricultural development schemes and programs are driving the need for Big Data Analytics in the agricultural sector.

Following are some of these:

  1. Government agricultural development schemes and programs viz. AGMARKNET/c-NAM
  2. Soil Health Card
  3. National Animal Disease Reporting System (N/DRS)
  4. Kisan Call Centre Database
  5. DBT schemes

Key applications:

To manage financial, meteorological, and climate risks, big data can be used for insurance based on weather indices as well as financial and credit programmes.

  • Interest of things (IoT)

IoT is a network of physical objects embedded with sensors, software, electronics, and connectivity to allow them to perform better by exchanging information with other connected devices, the operator, or the manufacturer. 

It is a network of connected computing devices, mechanical and digital machinery, objects, animals, or people who can exchange data across it and have unique identification. 

IT solution providers provide digital solutions to agriculture/agri-business for automation, resource management, etc. for farmers.

  • Artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (Al) enhances automation by incorporating analysis and learning based on past and current data, allowing for decision-making based on multiple and varied information. 

Farmers can benefit from its use in developing improved seeds, crop protection, and fertility products.

  • Machine learning techniques
  1. ICT has opened up the opportunity for Al-powered chatbots to automate interactions with end users. These bots use machine learning techniques, understand natural language, and interact with users in a personalized way. 
  2. Cognitive technologies allow for analyzing and correlating information about weather, type of seeds, types of soil or infestations, probability of diseases, data about what worked best, year-to-year outcomes, market trends, prices or consumer needs. 
  3. Public Extension service centres such as Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s (KVKs) and Agricultural Technology Management Agencies (ATMA) are all well positioned to be the nerve centres for Al applications and knowledge diffusion among India’s vast farming community.
  • Blockchain technology 
  1. Chain technology is a ledger of accounts and transactions written and stored by participants that can track the provenance of food and create trustworthy food supply chains. 
  2. It also facilitates the use of data-driven technologies to make farming smarter and provides timely payments between stakeholders. 
  3. Additionally, it can validate the authenticity of planting material by keeping a record of high-resolution images of the material in transit and other items from sources to farms.

Benefits of using technology in agriculture

  1. IoT (Internet of Things) technology in agriculture can bring about social change in rural society, allowing farmers to plan and schedule crops independently and make better decisions, leading to increased productivity and revenue.
  2. Farmers can derive knowledge from data, create plans, manage, and carry out these plans independently, undertake course corrections and revise plans as necessary. 
  3. They are capable of planning and scheduling crops without relying on the state’s extension system. They can make better decisions about when to plant, irrigate, safeguard, or harvest their crops, for example. 
  4. Agriculture’s GDP will rise with increased productivity and revenue; state/national monitoring is feasible through time series, spatial data analysis, implementing actions, and other methods.
  5. IoT-driven technology is used for:
  1. Agriculture
  2. Horticulture
  3. Dairy
  4. Food processing
  5. Shrimp farming
  6. Inland fisheries
  7. logistics and the whole Agri-value chain 


  1. Soil testing
  2. Irrigating land
  3. Watering plants
  4. Cultivating land
  5. Weeding, seeding/sowing, harvesting
  6. Milking cows, loading/unloading/stacking, transporting/marketing 
  7. Agricultural readiness
  8. Quality of farm produce 
  9. Pesticide residue
  10. Location/position/tilt
  11. Intrusion of animals
  12. Online/SMS advice/answers on solutions for problems/glitches

Progress of IoT in the field of Agriculture

  1. The Information Technology Research Academy (ITRA) was established in partnership with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to help develop Big Data Analytics in the agricultural sector. 
  2. The government is contemplating positioning two of the important Public Extension Service Centres, viz Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and Agricultural Technology Management Agencies (ATMA) to facilitate Al applications and knowledge diffusion. 
  3. The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare (DAC&FW) has also proposed a proposal to provide Sensors on the phone of farmers to be used for Big Data Analysis to create suitable Policies and Decision Support Systems (DSS). 
  4. The government has initiated the digital agriculture mission for 2021-2025 to digitize land records and provide the facility for banks to create online charges, as well as reduce double financing and provide easy access to land records. The SmartFarming4/P was developed to address the challenges faced by small and marginal farmers in the state.

Rural India

  1. The Government of India (GOI) launched the Digital India Land Record Modernization Program to reduce the scope of land or property disputes and increase transparency in land records. This includes digitizing land records and providing the facility for banks to create online charges, as well as reducing instances of multiple or double financing on the same piece of land. 
  2. The Ministry of Panchayati Raj launched the Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas (SVAMITVA) to promote a socio-economically empowered and self-reliant rural India. The Revenue Department/Land Records Department will be the nodal department at the state level for carrying out the scheme with the support of the State Panchayati Raj Department.

Initiatives for financial inclusion through financial technology 

  1. CBS provides digital banking services to isolated rural communities, supported by NABARD and commercial banks.
  2. NABARD-initiated CBS project helps RCBs credit DBT seamlessly into customers’ accounts.
  3. NABARD facilitated RTGS/NEFT sub-membership and recognition of micro-ATMs as ATMs, eliminating the need for an intermediary financial inclusion server.
  4. NABARD has enabled India to adopt a multi-agency and multi-model approach to rural financial inclusion, integrating CBS with other services such as ATM, micro-ATM, and Atal Pension Yojana. 
  5. NABARD has pioneered the Bank Sakhi model to provide time-flexible, acceptable, trustworthy, and dependable BC services, and is driving digital transactions through BHIM incentives.

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