In the contemporary era, where the world is struggling to meet the challenges of food security and environmental sustainability, the issue of food wastage has garnered significant attention. With approximately 1.03 billion tonnes of food wasted annually, the need for technologies that can prolong the freshness of produce and minimize wastage is paramount. This article delves into various innovative technologies and platforms that are making strides in different segments of the food supply chain, directly from farms to fork, to mitigate the wastage of fruits and vegetables.
Pioneering Technologies at the Agricultural Level
Protective peel: The preservation of fruits and vegetables has been revolutionized by the development of plant-derived solution that forms a protective layer around the produce, significantly enhancing its shelf life. This innovation mitigates post-harvest losses and reduces dependency on refrigeration and controlled atmospheres, thereby minimizing energy consumption and environmental impact.
Full Harvest: Addressing the issue of “ugly” produce being discarded, A B2B marketplace that connects farmers directly with food organizations, supporting the sale of surplus and imperfect produce, thereby preventing wastage, and facilitating additional revenue streams for farmers.
Protective vapour: Innovative sachets, which release a shelf-life-enhancing vapour, are placed within the packaging of fresh produce, slowing down the ageing process and providing additional days or even weeks of marketability, reducing the likelihood of in-transit wastage.
Mitigating Wastage in Retail Environments
AI enabled shelf-life check: This innovation uses handheld devices and AI-driven software so that suppliers and retailers can predict the shelf life of fresh produce precisely. This technology aids in making informed decisions regarding inventory management, distribution, and pricing, thereby minimizing wastage.
Dynamic pricing: A dynamic pricing model utilizes machine learning to adjust the prices of perishable goods based on their expiration dates. This approach incentivizes consumers to purchase items closer to their sell-by date, reducing waste and optimizing revenue.
AI enabled inventory: AI is being employed to predict sales and optimize inventory management, this has significantly reduced supermarket waste, ensuring that perishable items are sold before they surpass their optimal freshness.
Technologies for Restaurants and Food Services
AI kitchen forecasts: AI-driven sales forecasting algorithms enable restaurants to predict sales accurately, facilitating optimal purchasing and preparation decisions, thereby significantly reducing food waste. Similarly, smart scales and AI cameras are being used in kitchens to monitor and analyze waste patterns. By understanding what is being wasted and why, kitchens can implement strategies to cut food waste, saving money and reducing environmental impact.
Consumer apps: Mobile apps are being used to bridge the gap between consumers and food establishments, enabling the latter to sell surplus food at discounted prices, prevent it from being discarded, and provide consumers with affordable meal options. These apps foster a community where neighbours and local businesses can share surplus food instead of discarding it. This approach not only reduces waste but also promotes community interaction and support.
Home checks: The FridgeCam allows users to view the contents of their fridge remotely via a mobile app, enabling them to make informed purchasing decisions and plan meals effectively, thereby reducing the likelihood of food wastage.
Shelf-life extension: By absorbing ethylene gas, which accelerates the ripening of fruits and vegetables, the shelf life of produce can be extended, ensuring that it remains fresh for more prolonged periods, reducing the need for frequent shopping trips and minimizing wastage.
Technology integration into the food supply chain, from agricultural practices to consumer management, has demonstrated the potential to significantly reduce the wastage of fruits and vegetables. These innovations, which encompass various aspects of preservation, inventory management, dynamic pricing, and consumer engagement, are pivotal in addressing the global issue of food wastage. As the world continues to navigate the challenges of population growth, climate change, and food security, technologies will be prominent in ensuring that fresh produce is utilized effectively, minimizing wastage, and promoting sustainability.
In the heart of India’s agricultural landscape, a groundbreaking opportunity is emerging—one that not only holds the promise of rejuvenating the dwindling health of the soil but also enhancing the farmers’ livelihoods. As poor soil health and diminishing profits continue to plague Indian farmers, a beacon of hope shines in the form of carbon credits. This avenue could potentially address these pressing issues and revolutionize the landscape of Indian agriculture.
The Shift Towards a Domestic Carbon Market
The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, recently passed in the Lok Sabha, is set to kindle the development of a domestic carbon market. While the bill’s primary focus is on the renewable energy sector, its implications ripple into the agricultural sphere, indirectly paving the way for benefits to reach India’s farmers.
With over half of India’s population engaged in agriculture, the sector’s reliance on natural resources like soil and water is profound. However, the climate crisis, manifested through land degradation, fluctuating market prices, and escalating input costs, poses a significant threat to agricultural production’s sustainability and farming communities’ well-being.
Fostering Soil Health: A Critical Imperative
The post-Green Revolution era witnessed the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, culminating in the degradation of soil health. This crisis is exacerbated by the fact that nearly 30% of India’s land area, particularly unirrigated agricultural land, is in a state of degradation. Soil, a reservoir of essential elements like carbon, phosphorous, and nitrogen, plays a pivotal role in agriculture.
Diminishing soil carbon levels weakens the soil’s capacity to retain water and renders it susceptible to erosion and runoff, further amplifying cycles of floods and droughts. Thus, carbon sequestration—a process that involves storing atmospheric carbon dioxide in the soil—has become critical. Carbon sequestration holds a dual advantage by elevating soil carbon levels: mitigating climate change and fortifying agriculture.
Cultivating Soil Health Through Regenerative Practices
To reverse soil degradation, farmers must adopt regenerative agriculture practices. Techniques like cover cropping, residue mulching, and employing optimal dosage of fertilizers will contribute to increased biomass and reduced carbon loss from the soil. These practices rejuvenate soil health, resulting in higher yields. However, as these approaches demand time and resources and yield returns in the long term, farmers require incentives to embrace them fully. This is where carbon credits step in as a potent catalyst.
Unlocking the Potential of Carbon Credits
The intrinsic link between soil health improvement and soil carbon elevation necessitates constant monitoring and incentivization. Carbon credits serve to monetize soil carbon levels. These credits represent units of greenhouse gases sequestered from or prevented from entering the atmosphere. A single carbon credit certifies the removal of one metric tonne of CO2 from the air.
Leveraging advancements in remote sensing and AI, carbon levels are predicted through satellite data—a cornerstone in calculating carbon credits. Governments and companies procure carbon credits to meet their climate commitments, offering a market-based solution to reduce emissions.
Farmers Reaping the Benefits
Participation in the carbon market offers direct and indirect benefits to farmers. The direct gain comes in the form of monetary incentives for carbon sequestration. While one carbon credit is currently valued at around INR 780, corporations may offer higher rates, reaching up to INR 2000 per credit for substantial volumes. Regenerative practices can result in sequestering one to four carbon credits per acre.
Indirectly, improved soil health manifests through increased water-holding capacity, enhanced nutrient availability, and lowered soil density, leading to augmented yields. However, the journey of an individual farmer into the carbon market isn’t easy. Nonprofits and farmer-producer organizations (FPOs) play a pivotal role in guiding and supporting farmers to tap into the benefits of carbon credit programmes.
Navigating the Path to Carbon Credit Monetization
For farmers to embrace carbon credit programmes, a sequence of steps is essential:
Promote Regenerative Practices: Nonprofits and FPOs encourage regenerative agriculture practices within their groups, focusing on increasing soil organic matter and carbon.
Collaborate with Agri-Tech Partners: Many companies operating in voluntary carbon markets, offer platforms to list and trade carbon projects.
Third-Party Verification: Third-party agencies verify listed projects. Upon approval, the credits are sold, and incentives are distributed to FPOs and farmers.
As nations worldwide commit to combating climate change, the synergy between carbon credit markets and farmers is poised to evolve. While the journey may not be devoid of challenges, the multifaceted benefits of heightened soil carbon levels could potentially usher in a new era of regenerative agriculture, effectively contributing to climate resilience. In this union, farmers will emerge as the champions of sustainable farming, bolstering the very foundation of Indian agriculture.
Vitamin A is crucial to maintaining good health and preventing various health issues. According to the premier World Health Organization (WHO), Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a noteworthy public health concern, especially in low-income countries in Africa and South-East Asia. VAD is the primary cause of preventable blindness in children and increases the risk of contagious infections, resulting in disease and even death. Focusing on foods rich in vitamin A sources, such as leafy vegetables, tomato, mango, carrot, eggs and fish is essential to combat this deficiency. In this blog, let’s explore vitamin A’s significance and the potential benefits of vitamin A-rich rice, banana, and maize.
Vitamin A-Rich Rice
One of the remarkable innovations in addressing vitamin A deficiency is Golden Rice, a genetically engineered Rice with beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. This biofortified Rice is critical in combating the devastating consequences of widespread vitamin A deficiency in developing and nations and vulnerable populations. In many cultures, children are weaned on rice gruel, and if they do not receive enough beta-carotene or vitamin A rich foods during this crucial period, they may suffer long-term consequences. Golden Rice aims to provide a sustainable solution to this problem by fortifying rice with essential nutrients, making it a valuable addition to the diet of vulnerable populations.
Vitamin A-Rich Banana
Bananas, a widely consumed fruit cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions, are a significant source of nutrients for many communities. Researchers have made significant strides in the field of biotechnology by developing “biofortified” bananas that are rich in provitamin A. By combining genes from a species of banana high in provitamin A with a high-yielding Cavendish banana, scientists have created bananas that can effectively address vitamin A deficiency. These nutritionally rewarding bananas have the potential to save hundreds of thousands of children’s lives, since it forma a major part of the infant diet.
Vitamin A-Rich Maize
Maize, the world’s third most commonly consumed cereal grain, holds great promise in combating vitamin A deficiency. Maize flour and corn meal, widely consumed in many regions, can be fortified to enhance their nutritional value. Provitamin A carotenoid biofortified “orange” maize, developed through selective breeding, increases beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin in the endosperm. Studies have shown that vitamin A-biofortified orange maize significantly improves visual functions in children with vitamin A deficiency. This food-based approach to combating deficiency underscores the importance of integrating vitamin A-rich maize into daily diets.
The societal impact of vitamin A-rich rice, maize, and banana
Vitamin A is essential for maintaining balanced vision and is vital in many physiological processes of the human body. It is critical for fetal development, immune response, and overall growth, which makes Vitamin A essential for mothers’ and children’s well-being and survival.
Agricultural biotechnology and genetic engineering advancements have paved the way for innovative solutions to the global issue of VAD. Golden Rice, vitamin A-rich bananas, and biofortified maize offer promising ways to combat vitamin A deficiency and improve the overall health of vulnerable populations. As we continue to explore the potential advantages of these nutrient-rich crops, it becomes clear that vitamin A is essential for individual health and building a healthier society. Let us explore the profound effects of these vitamin A-rich foods on societies.
- Enhancing Food and Nutrition Security
Fortifying these crops with essential nutrients makes them valuable sources of vitamins and minerals, reducing the risk of malnutrition and related health issues. Improved food security ensures that communities have access to a diversified and nutritious diet, contributing to better overall health, cognitive development, and economic productivity.
- Empowering Local Farmers and Agricultural Sustainability
The cultivation and promotion of vitamin A-rich rice, maize, and banana not only benefits the health of communities but also empowers local farmers. Farmers can produce nutrient-rich foods in high demand by growing biofortified crops, leading to increased income and economic growth.
- Economic Growth and Poverty Alleviation
Healthy populations are more productive and better equipped to participate in the workforce, leading to increased economic output and community prosperity. Moreover, improved health reduces healthcare costs and breaks the cycle of poverty.
- Improving Child Survival and Development
Children are among the most vulnerable to the consequences of vitamin A deficiency. The integration of vitamin A-rich rice, maize, and banana in children’s diets can significantly impact child survival and development. Improved access to essential nutrients during early childhood ensures proper growth, strengthens the immune system, and reduces the risk of debilitating health issues.
In conclusion, the societal impact of vitamin A-rich rice, maize, and bananas is far-reaching and transformative. From combating vitamin-A deficiency to promoting economic growth and food security, these nutrient-dense crops play a significant role in improving health conditions throughout the world. By harnessing the potential of biotechnology and agricultural innovation, we can continue to advance the availability and accessibility of these and many other , ultimately leading to healthier, more resilient, and prosperous societies.
Advancing Weather Tracking in Agriculture: Benefits, Challenges, and Technology Innovations
Weather tracking is pivotal in agriculture, enabling farmers to make informed decisions and mitigate risks associated with unpredictable weather conditions. This blog post delves into weather tracking, its importance in agriculture, and the challenges in implementing effective weather forecasting solutions. We will also explore the critical technologies driving weather monitoring and forecasting in the agricultural sector.
Understanding Weather Tracking in Agriculture
Weather tracking involves using technology, such as weather radar and sensors, to monitor and predict weather patterns and their impact on agricultural activities. It provides crucial information about precipitation levels, temperature fluctuations, wind speed, and other meteorological factors directly influencing farming operations.
Benefits of Weather Tracking in Agriculture
- Optimal Resource Management: Accurate weather tracking allows farmers to optimize resource allocation, including irrigation, fertilization, and pest control. Farmers can avoid wastage and minimize the environmental impact by aligning farm practices with weather patterns.
- Risk Mitigation: Weather tracking helps farmers anticipate and respond to potential risks, such as storms, droughts, or extreme temperatures. Timely information enables proactive measures to protect crops, livestock, and infrastructure, reducing losses and ensuring resilience.
- Precision Farming: Farmers can make site-specific decisions and tailor their practices to optimize yields by integrating weather data with precision agriculture techniques. This includes adjusting planting schedules, optimizing fertilization, and monitoring crop health based on weather conditions.
- Efficient Resource Allocation: Weather tracking enables efficient water management by aligning irrigation schedules with precipitation forecasts. This reduces water waste and ensures crops receive the right amount, preventing over or under-watering.
Challenges in Weather Tracking
- Limited Connectivity: Some rural areas may need more reliable mobile network coverage and internet connectivity, hindering the effective use of weather-tracking technology. This challenge is gradually being addressed with the development of network weather stations and the expansion of connectivity options.
- Data Accuracy and Quality: Weather forecasting relies on accurate and high-quality data availability. Ensuring the reliability and consistency of data from weather sensors, satellites, and ground stations is crucial for accurate predictions.
- Complex Data Analysis: The vast amount of data generated by weather monitoring systems requires sophisticated analysis techniques. Applying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms can help extract meaningful insights and improve the accuracy of weather predictions.
Critical Technologies for Weather Monitoring and Forecasting
- IoT Sensors for Real-Time Data: Internet of Things (IoT) sensors form the foundation of connected weather tracking systems. These sensors collect data on environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, and rainfall, providing real-time information to farmers. IoT systems enable risk detection and notification of upcoming weather events.
- Satellite Data and Hardware Stations: Satellites provide valuable data for weather forecasting, allowing farmers to access geospatial and meteorological information. Aerial images and satellite data help monitor climate changes, predict weather disasters, and plan farming activities based on accurate localized weather information.
- AI and Machine Learning: AI and machine learning algorithms enhance weather prediction capabilities by analysing large datasets and identifying patterns. These technologies can process weather data from various sources, such as sensors, satellites, and local weather stations, to provide more accurate localized weather forecasts.
- Cloud Computing and Storage: Cloud computing platforms enable the efficient processing and storage of large volumes of weather data. Cloud-based solutions facilitate the analysis of complex weather patterns and support decision-making processes for farmers.
Weather tracking technology is pivotal in modern agriculture, helping farmers optimize resource management, mitigate risks, and achieve higher productivity. By leveraging IoT sensors, satellite data, AI, and machine learning algorithms, farmers can make data-driven decisions and adapt their practices to changing weather conditions. While limited connectivity and data accuracy persist, advancements in technology and connectivity options pave the way for more accurate and timely weather-tracking solutions. With continued innovation and collaboration, weather forecasting in agriculture will continue to improve, supporting sustainable and climate-smart farming practices.
Greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture are an ever-pressing concern due to their significant contribution to climate change. As we strive to combat global warming, it is crucial to control the various sources of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture and implement mitigation strategies to reduce their impact. This blog explores the origins of agricultural emissions, their environmental impacts, and the ongoing efforts to address this critical issue.
Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agriculture
Livestock and enteric fermentation contribute 15 % of the total human centric greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture. The digestive systems of farm animals, like cattle, sheep, and goats, produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Also, manure management practices can release methane and nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas with a higher warming potential than carbon dioxide.
Rice cultivation is another significant source of agricultural emissions. Under flooded conditions, rice fields create an anaerobic environment, facilitating methane production. Methane emissions from rice cultivation account for a substantial portion of global agricultural emissions.
The use of synthetic fertilizers in agriculture contributes to nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous oxide is released when bacteria break down nitrogen-based fertilizers in the soil. Inefficient fertilizer management practices further intensify these emissions.
Agricultural machinery and fuel combustion also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Using fossil fuels to power tractors, harvesters, and other machinery releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, adding to the agricultural carbon footprint.
Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Agriculture
The greenhouse gas emissions and their contribution to climate change is adversely impacting agricultural productivity. Climate change, driven partly by agricultural emissions, leads to more frequent and severe weather events like droughts and floods. These extreme weather conditions disrupt crop growth, endanger livestock, and threaten food production and security.
Furthermore, greenhouse gas emissions contribute to air and water pollution. For instance, methane and nitrous oxide emissions from manure management and fertilizer use can contaminate the air, exacerbating respiratory issues and air quality concerns. Runoff from agricultural fields can carry excess nutrients and pesticides into water bodies, leading to water pollution and harmful algal blooms.
Mitigation Strategies for Reducing Agricultural Emissions
Addressing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture requires the implementation of effective mitigation strategies. Simple changes in livestock management practices, such as optimizing animal diets and improving waste management systems, can significantly reduce methane emissions. By adopting techniques like anaerobic digestion or composting, farmers can capture methane from manure and convert it into biogas, reducing emissions while generating renewable energy.
Alternative techniques like intermittent flooding or aerobic rice systems can help minimize methane emissions in rice fields. These practices involve periods of dry soil or aerobic conditions that limit methane production.
Precision agriculture techniques, including efficient fertilizer use, can mitigate nitrous oxide emissions. By precisely applying fertilizers in the right amounts, in the precise area and at the correct times, farmers can reduce nitrogen losses and minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
In agricultural operations, shifting towards renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, can help reduce emissions from machinery and fuel combustion. Using electric or hybrid machinery can also contribute to a greener and more sustainable agricultural sector.
Collaborative Approaches and Policies
Addressing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture requires collective efforts from governments, agricultural stakeholders, and international organizations. Global agreements like the Paris Agreement provide a framework for countries to work together towards emission reduction targets. Many nations have developed agricultural policies and incentives to encourage sustainable farming practices and the adoption of climate-smart technologies.
Research and innovation are crucial in finding new solutions to reduce agricultural emissions. Scientists are continuously exploring novel techniques, such as genetic improvements in crops, precision farming technologies, and carbon sequestration methods in agricultural soils, to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture further.
Current Statistics and Progression
Present conditions and continued progression underscore the urgency to address greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture. Per the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agriculture, including forestry and other land uses, accounts for approximately 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock production alone contributes about 14.5% of global emissions from enteric fermentation and manure management.
However, there has been notable progress in tackling agricultural emissions. Governments and organizations worldwide are increasingly recognizing the importance of addressing agricultural emissions. Many countries have integrated climate change and sustainable agriculture objectives into national policies and strategies. Furthermore, collaborations between researchers, farmers, and farming industries have resulted in sharing best practices, knowledge, and technology transfer to reduce emissions effectively.
It is worth noting that agricultural emissions reduction is a complex challenge, as it requires balancing environmental concerns with food security and sustainable livelihoods for farmers. Transitioning to low-emission practices must be accompanied by support mechanisms, capacity building, and financial incentives for farmers to ensure the viability and resilience of agricultural systems.
Addressing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture is crucial to mitigate climate change, ensuring food security, and protecting the planet’s resources. Collaborative efforts among governments, agricultural stakeholders, and research institutions are essential to drive innovation, develop supportive policies, and provide the necessary resources for sustainable farming practices. Together, we can significantly protect our planet and secure a better future for future generations.
Agriculture has been the foundation on which human civilization was built. It has always played a vital role in the prosperity, development and well-being of society. It provides food, fiber, and fuel for the world’s population, employs a large portion of the global workforce, and supports rural development and poverty reduction. However, the agriculture supported population and industrial growth is now pressurising agricultural productivity along with several other challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and soil degradation. To address these challenges, the agriculture industry needs to adopt data-driven practices to improve productivity, sustainability, and profitability.
Need for Data in Agriculture
Farmers face numerous challenges that can impact their productivity and profitability. They need to manage crops, soil, water, pests, and diseases to ensure healthy and high-quality produce. However, these challenges are often unpredictable, and they require timely and accurate information to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, farmers often lack sufficient data to make the right decisions. They rely on traditional practices, experience, and intuition, which can lead to suboptimal outcomes. Therefore, the need for data in agriculture is critical to address these challenges and improve productivity and profitability.
Moreover, the agriculture industry plays a crucial role in global food security. The world’s population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, and the demand for food is expected to increase by 50%. To meet this demand, the agriculture industry needs to produce more food with fewer resources. Data can help farmers achieve this goal by providing insights into soil health, crop yields, weather patterns, and market trends. With these insights, farmers can optimize their resources, reduce waste, and increase efficiency.
Importance of Data in Agriculture
Data is essential for improving productivity and profitability in agriculture. It enables farmers to make informed decisions about planting, harvesting, and managing their crops. With data, farmers can analyze their soil health, water use, and nutrient management to optimize their yields. They can also use data to monitor pests and diseases, detect anomalies, and respond quickly to prevent related losses. Data can also help farmers manage their resources better by reducing waste, improving energy efficiency, and conserving water.
Data is also crucial for sustainable agriculture practices that aim to reduce environmental impact, preserve natural resources, and enhance ecosystem services. With data, farmers can adopt precision agriculture practices, such as variable rate technology, which optimizes the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and water. Data can also help farmers implement conservation practices, such as cover cropping, no-till farming, and crop rotation, which improve soil health, reduce erosion, and sequester carbon. Sustainable agriculture practices benefit farmers, consumers, and the environment.
Furthermore, data is essential for better decision-making and risk management. Agriculture is a risky business, and farmers face several uncertainties, such as weather, market volatility, and disease outbreaks. With data, farmers can assess and reduce their risks, develop contingency plans, and make informed decisions. For example, data can help farmers decide when to plant, harvest, or sell their crops to optimize their returns. It can also help farmers manage their financial risks, such as crop insurance and loans.
Types of Agricultural Data
Agricultural data comes in different forms and from various sources. The following are the main types of agricultural data:
Climate data: Climate data includes information about temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind velocity, and other meteorological variables. This data is critical for predicting weather patterns, assessing risks, and managing irrigation.
Soil data: Soil data includes information about soil health, fertility, texture, structure, and chemistry. This data is essential for optimizing nutrient management, water use, and crop yields.
Crop data: Crop data includes information about crop growth, health, and yield. This data is crucial for predicting harvests, optimizing inputs, and identifying crop varieties and management practices that work best in specific environments.
Market data: Market data includes information about prices, demand, supply, and trade. This data is critical for farmers to make informed decisions about when and where to sell their produce. Market data also helps farmers identify trends and opportunities to diversify their crops and expand their markets.
Tools and Technologies for Data Collection and Analysis in Agriculture
There are several tools and technologies available for farmers to collect and analyze agricultural data. The following are some of the most popular ones:Drones: Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with cameras and sensors that can capture high-resolution images and data about crops and fields. Drones can help farmers monitor crops, detect anomalies, and assess damage caused by pests, diseases, or weather events.
IoT devices: IoT devices are sensors, cameras, and other devices that are connected to the internet and can collect data about soil moisture, temperature, humidity, and other environmental variables in real time. IoT devices can help farmers monitor their crops and make timely decisions about irrigation, fertilization, and pest management.
Precision agriculture: Precision agriculture is a data-driven approach that uses GPS, drones, IoT devices, and other technologies to optimize crop inputs, reduce waste, and increase efficiency. Precision agriculture enables farmers to apply the right amount of fertilizer, water, and pesticides to each part of the field, depending on its specific needs.
Machine learning and AI: Machine learning and AI are technologies that enable computers to learn from data sets and make predictions and decisions. In agriculture, machine learning and AI can help farmers analyze vast amounts of data, such as weather patterns, soil health, and crop yields, to identify patterns and trends that can help them make better decisions.
In conclusion, the need for and importance of data in agriculture cannot be overstated. Data-driven practices can help farmers address the challenges they face, improve productivity and profitability, and contribute to global food security. The types of agricultural data, such as climate, soil, crop, and market data, are essential for farmers to make informed decisions about planting, harvesting, and managing their crops. The tools and technologies available for data collection and analysis, such as drones, IoT devices, precision agriculture, and machine learning, are critical for farmers to optimize their resources, reduce waste, and increase efficiency. Therefore, farmers and policymakers must embrace data-driven agriculture to achieve sustainable agriculture practices that benefit farmers, consumers, and the environment.
India needs to increase the production of essential food items like edible oils for its approximately 1.4 billion people, the second-largest population in the world. The previous fiscal year saw India spending a record $19 billion on vegetable oil imports. Before supplies could improve, the Russian invasion of Ukraine hampered imports and increased costs further.
It is imperative for India to identify and implement effective farming practices because of its expanding population and decreasing arable land. According to scientists, India can benefit by adopting farming technologies like Genetically Modified (GM) crops to enhance food security and reduce reliance on imports.
INCREASING ADOPTION OF GM CROPS
Today, GM crops are planted in more than 30 nations. In some instances, adoption rates of GM crops have exceeded 95% without any adverse impact. Until recently, only cotton could be grown as a GM crop in India.
The Indian government recently granted environmental approval for mustard that has been genetically modified (GM). The environmental release of the genetically modified mustard hybrid Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11) created by Delhi University for its seed production and testing before its commercial release was authorized by the biotechnology regulatory body Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) in October 2022.
With this development, India’s first food crop may be ready for commercial release in roughly two years. Using DMH-11 for commercial production could boost output over currently available conventional hybrids by 25–30%. This boost in output is likely to significantly increase the country’s oilseed production, which is now only about 1,200 kg/hectare compared to the average global yield of 2,000 kg/hectare
HOW GENETIC MODIFICATION ENHANCES CROP QUALITY AND YIELD
Because it can provide specific alterations in crop types that are extremely difficult to obtain through regular breeding of plant lines, GM is a highly beneficial technology. The scientific objective behind genetic alteration in DMH-11 was to make the mustard crop adaptable to hybridization.
Hybrid plants produced by crossing genetically different parents show greater yields and adaptability. This phenomenon called heterosis, also known as hybrid vigor, has been extensively used in crops like maize, pearl millet, rice, sunflower, and many vegetables. Across all crops, hybrids produce 20–25% more yield than conventionally developed cultivars.
Traditionally the rising demand for GM crops results from features like insect tolerance and herbicide tolerance. The excellent nutritional value, greater production, and longer shelf life of GM crops are further advantages. GM mustard on the other hand bring forth an efficient way to produce mustard hybrids by producing male sterile lines. All the different scientific breakthroughs generated via the genetic modification process could assist farmers in finding sustainable and profitable agricultural solutions while also ensuring the well-being of associated communities, animals, and the environment.
ROLE OF RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS
Creating a favorable environment for our agricultural scientists to research biotech crop and develop improved crops, is in the best interests of consumers and farmers. As per recent reports, Indian institutions are developing genetically modified seeds for 13 different crops, including rice, wheat, and sugarcane, to increase their output and quality. These research initiatives include breeding GM crops for various features, including increased yields and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress. The government-run Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and other organizations are researching to create GM varieties of the potato, pigeon pea lentils, chickpeas, and bananas.
India has inherent advantages, and experts see enormous prospects for the agricultural potential to be unlocked with the appropriate technology, investment, and policies. Increased government funding for research and development of new seed varieties that are more durable and sustainable is required to safeguard the interests of farmers.
Several factors, including the use of fertilizers, water availability, and soil health, influence the yield of a specific crop. Therefore, while promoting new solutions like GM crops, all other production aspects must also be taken into account. The government has invested heavily in specific farmer-centric programs; to support such programs, big infrastructure investments that improve soil, water, and general farming methods need to be prioritized.
Moving forward, it is important for stakeholders and decision-makers to create an encouraging framework for the industry to invest in emerging technologies that could boost agricultural output. Collaboration with public sector organizations would be critical in the distribution of seeds to guarantee fair price and pan-India availability.
Since the 2000s, floods have multiplied four-fold, and droughts have surged by over a third in a generation. Experts have predicted for a long time that crop failures can be aggravated by climatic variability, potentially leading to food shortages. This threat is especially true for drier conditions which can make crops susceptible to disease and pests. By 2050, the UN estimates, we’ll need to produce 50% more food to support the world’s expanding population. However, the majority of our prime farmland is already in use and suffers from the effects of over-use. Therefore, we must find a way to grow more food on the same or lesser land.
AN EMERGING TECHNOLOGY, GENE EDITING CAN HELP DEAL WITH GLOBAL FOOD CHALLENGES
Scientists have been working on emerging technologies that can help improve desirable characteristics of a plant by leveraging its genetic code. Academic researchers and agri-businesses are modifying staple crops with revolutionary gene-editing technologies to make them more resilient to changing climate and address the growing worries about food security. CRISPR gene-editing technology, a new biological method for creating commercially valuable crop characteristics, has recently attracted scientific interest. Scientists expect CRISPR to improve environmental sustainability, food quality, and production.
UNDERSTANDING THE POTENTIAL OF GENE EDITING AND CRISPR
Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat, or CRISPR is a relatively recent method of modifying an organism’s genome. This powerful CRISPR technology enables scientists to change DNA sequences and adjust gene function in species more quickly. Gene-edited plants differ from the GMOs as they mostly do not have introduced DNA . Instead, many of the CRISPR-edited plants could appear naturally in nature — due to spontaneous mutations. This process not only makes obtaining regulatory approval easier, but it may also promote public acceptance, which is essential for making CRISPR-edited food acceptance for consumers. Here are some ways scientists are utilizing CRISPR to create healthier, more enticing, and more durable foods.
Our brains naturally create the chemical Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which could help treat high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and other health issues in addition to reducing stress and anxiety, according to research that has connected GABA to these effects. Now, people in Japan can enhance their GABA consumption without using supplements by consuming a gene-edited cultivar of tomatoes designed to generate less of an enzyme that degrades the fruit’s natural GABA.
Researchers from China and Germany deactivated a maize kernel-producing gene in corn using CRISPR technology – with an increase to 16 from 14 rows per ear, corn yields rose by 10%. A similar gene was silenced in rice, increasing yields by 8%.
A leafy vegetable with lots of nutrients, mustard greens have fewer calories. Still, due to a reaction between two ingredients, they have a notably bitter flavor, which may deter some grocery shoppers from adding them to their carts. A food-tech company has created mustard greens with a softer taste by editing off one of the two bitterness-causing elements using CRISPR.
“Polyphenol Oxidases” (PPOs) cause the starches in a potato to react with the air when it is chopped or peeled, turning the flesh brown; this can reduce the potato’s nutritional value and make it appear less appetizing. In 2020, Argentine researchers shared that they had silenced using CRISPR a gene that triggers cells to make PPOs, leading to potatoes that brown slowly.
African bananas are susceptible to the bacterial disease banana xanthomonas wilt (BXW), which is particularly contagious. It has cost, the economy billions of dollars in losses over the last ten years and put millions of people’s jobs and food security in danger. Researchers in Kenya are using CRISPR to decrease the expression of specific genes that rise in infected banana plants, resulting in bananas that are resistant to BWX.
Latest developments in technology, genomic sequencing, and artificial intelligence have made it possible to significantly alter how plants have been grown in the last ten years. Using these technologies, we can strive toward producing enough food and fiber for everyone on the planet while ensuring that the environment and farming communities are well-cared for. Agricultural institutions and governments should collaborate to make science-based decisions to establish a direct road to market that is open to businesses and organizations of all sizes to maximize the benefits for all.
7 ways CRISPR is shaping the future of food (freethink.com)
Our environment is a delicate balance of biodiversity and climate that respond of human interventions. Agriculture is most impacted by any changes in this balance and contributes the most to the environmental changes. Agriculture systems have been facing new environments that are changing faster than their rate of adaptation in different habitats and ecosystems. The ecological landscape is being substantially altered by warming temperatures and changing precipitation patterns, which in turn endanger the habitat of some plant and animal species. As a result of inclement weather conditions like drought, heat wave and flood the agricultural output has decreased and the world’s food supplies are impacted. Various warming scenarios are predicting a greater global drop in agricultural output.
THE CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY OF GENE EDITING COMES TO THE RESCUE
Gene editing is a powerful tool to help species adapt to climate change or lessen the consequences of climate change on agriculture in response to these difficulties.
Gene editing lets researchers to genetically alter specific locations in an organism’s genome. Compared to other plant breeding techniques, it is precise, quick, efficient, and less expensive. By enhancing features like increased nutrition, pest and disease resistance, and drought tolerance, editing technology enables us to improve the quality of crops. A few examples of recent gene editing research and applications that will help plants adapt better to climate change are listed below.
BUILDING TOLERANCE OF SALINITY IN RICE
Drought and salinity are two significant abiotic factors that influence rice, demanding an investigation into the possibilities of utilizing gene editing to develop resistant varieties. One such investigation involved using CRISPR/Cas9 to disable the rice gene OsRR22, which is linked to salt susceptibility. Edited rice plants performed better under high salt conditions without a drop in grain yield, plant biomass, or grain quality.
ENHANCING TOLERANCE FOR DROUGHT
The primary locations of water loss in plants are the stomata, which are anatomical structures on the surface of all agricultural plant tissues. Rice has been edited by focusing on stomatal growth to increase its resistance to drought and hot temperatures. In a specific study, rice lines with lower stomatal density showed encouraging yields in extreme drought and maintained lower temperatures. Thus, by lowering stomatal density through gene-editing methods, plants may be better able to withstand water shortages and likely be more tolerant to heat.
INCREASED DISEASE RESISTANCE IN RICE
Modeling two severe rice diseases in Tanzania, leaf blast and bacterial leaf blight, suggested that climate change may affect pests and diseases differently across geographies and time scales. A variety of rice diseases have responded very well to gene editing. To create OsSWEET13 knockouts, CRISPR/Cas9 was employed. SWEET family genes encode sucrose transporters that can be utilized by pathogens. This gene’s mutation significantly increased disease resistance.
VARIETIES OF SEMI-DWARF BANANAS
For efficient banana harvest and mechanized plant maintenance, experts recommend dwarf cultivars. The creation of a semi-dwarf type of banana has been aided by gene editing. CRISPR/Cas9 was used to create knockouts of genes involved in making certain plant hormones that regulate various developmental processes. Strong winds and storms are predicted to get worse due to climate change; this semi-dwarf variety may be more resilient to lodging and wind damage.
PROMOTIONAL EDITING FOR MAIZE DROUGHT TOLERANCE
Gene editing techniques can also assist knock-ins (gene insertion) in addition to producing knockouts. To boost drought tolerance in maize, scientists employed CRISPR/Cas9 to introduce a gene promoter in a particular region. ARGOS8, a gene linked to drought tolerance, was preceded by an alternative maize promoter. Greater grain production was made possible while sustaining yields under normal growth conditions because of this exact insertion.
DEVELOPMENT OF VIRUS RESISTANCE IN CUCUMBER
CRISPR/Cas9 was utilized to prevent viral infections by creating deletions in the eIF4e gene in cucumber. Reduced symptoms and viral buildup were seen in homozygous mutant lines that were resistant to papaya ringspot virus-W, zucchini yellow mosaic virus, and cucumber vein yellowing virus.
Gene editing techniques have created enormous possibilities for crops that can better withstand the effects of climate change. As discussed above, several gene editing initiatives have demonstrated promise in promoting climate resistance. Consequently, the use of advanced technology like gene editing in crop production is strongly recommended by several experts in the agriculture sector. According to scientists, gene editing can aid in developing robust crops to counteract the detrimental effects of climate change on agricultural production.
Climate change: Gene editing can help create resilient crops – Genetic Literacy Project