Digitization of the agriculture sector has become a buzzword these days across the globe particularly in the countries with the limited arable land. Use of technology more or less in every sector of the economy comprising even the agriculture sector is sweeping the world. The world is dilating upon big data, smart farming, input optimization, increase in rural IT capacity and agtech organizations which provide timely and massive information for monumental yield of the crops enriching the farming community. It has become crucial for the farmers to produce with limited water resources avoiding wastage since food security for the coming generations has become vital across the globe.
Europe and North America have rolled up their sleeves to accelerate the digitization of their agricultural sectors and make optimum use of Information and Communication Technologies. They are developing systems for automated farming. There are projects to integrate robots into farm management. It is being widely presumed that robotics adoption in agriculture sector would transform the entire system of agriculture bringing about the innovative methods to produce and have far greater yield which is a far-fetched dream so far in many countries. Moreover, the developed world has ensured the use of mobile phones, Internet of Things, artificial learning and the use of data by farmers.
Many countries in Asia have developed myriads of Apps to help the farming community. The government substantiates the system with the government machinery and funds since it helps in the growth of the GDP. Farmers are being facilitated with information on current weather along with the forecast for the next few days, knowledge on fertilizers, seeds, machinery, the latest commodity and market prices, precise usage of pesticides, farm and farmer related news, advisory which eventually bring about enormous output benefiting the population across the board in terms of lower prices for the populace and higher gains by the farmers.
Rural population of Pakistan can benefit from technology in terms of increased output of agriculture sector. Pakistan has over 151 million mobile phone subscribers and there are over 55 million mobile broadband subscribers. Though majority of the subscribers are from urban and semi-urban areas, yet the rural population comprising over 60% of the total population of 210 million is using cell phones with access to internet widely. Enormous technological development has transformed the agriculture sector of the developed countries however Pakistan still lags behind though some endeavors have been made recently in this regard which could be called a drop in the ocean.
More or less two years ago, a telecom operator collaborated with the Agriculture Department of the Government of Punjab for a project titled ‘Connected Agriculture Platform Punjab’ for the uplift of the sector and to benefit the farmers. This could be called a breakthrough since at least we have come out of regressive ideas and are on the trajectory of the progressive ideas to catch up with the rest of the world.
Digitization of agriculture sector has become imperative to achieve sustainable agricultural growth. It is time to discuss and implement innovative ideas for agricultural transformation with the digital technology options to transform the rural sector of Pakistan. Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy with almost 20 percent share in the GDP. A deluge of industries are agro-based industries, which make agriculture even more crucial for the betterment of the economy today and tomorrow.
Rural community of Pakistan with the use of technology could revolutionize the economy with precipitous increase in agriculture production which could turn into prosperity and economic self-sustenance getting Pakistan rid of twin deficits and palpable economic woes.
In all likelihood Pakistan seems to be moving by using digitization and it is hoped that the farmers would get opportunities through technology regarding crop improvement, combating crop diseases with the touch of a screen, being cognizant about the climate change to avert the crop loss and getting targeted recommendations. The government in general and the agriculture ministry in particular have to take a giant leap to promote digitization in the most vital sector of the economy.