The Government of Karnataka recently announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Microsoft Corporation India Private Limited. The collaboration intends to empower smallholder farmers with technology-oriented solutions that will help them increase income using ground-breaking, cloud-based technologies, machine learning and advanced analytics.
The MoU will experiment with the Karnataka Agricultural Price Commission (KAPC), Department of Agriculture to help improve price forecasting practices to benefit farmers. Microsoft with guidance from KAPC is attempting to develop a multi-variant agricultural commodity price forecasting model considering the following datasets – historical sowing area, production, yield, weather datasets and other related datasets as relevant. For this season, Tur crop has been identified for this prediction model.
The MoU is also aimed at using digital tools that have the potential to deliver cutting edge innovations and artificial intelligence to help farmers get higher crop yields in the state. Technology partner Microsoft in collaboration with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has deployed a Sowing Advisory Service in the kharif season on a limited pilot, under the Bhoochetana project.
Built on the Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite including Machine Learning and Power BI or Business Intelligence, these technology solutions aim at promoting digital farming practices in the state.
Dr. T.N. Prakash Kammardi, Chairman, Karnataka Agricultural Price Commission, Government of Karnataka, said, “We are certain that digital agriculture supported by advanced technology platforms will truly benefit farmers. We believe that Microsoft’s technology will support these innovative experiments which will help us transform the lives of the farmers in our state. ‘’
Dr. David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, highlights how digital tools can transform agriculture to reduce risk, increase incomes and improve food safety and nutrition: “Farmers who adopted the Sowing Advisory Service have already seen yield increases by timing their crop sowing based on advanced analytics that is delivered by SMS in a timely and targeted manner to help manage risks due to rainfall variability” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Anil Bhansali, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise, Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt. Ltd., said, “At Microsoft we want technology to empower every person and organization in the world. This MoU will help enable the use of intelligent technologies to deliver solutions in the agriculture sector. Artificial Intelligence in agriculture can play a major role in the digital transformation of India.”
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is a non-profit, non-political organization that conducts agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world. Covering 6.5 million square kilometers of land in 55 countries, the semi-arid tropics have over 2 billion people, and 644 million of these are the poorest of the poor. ICRISAT innovations help the dryland poor move from poverty to prosperity by harnessing markets while managing risks – a strategy called Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (lMOD). ICRISAT is headquartered in Hyderabad, Telangana, India, with two regional hubs and six country offices in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a member of the CGIAR System Organization.