Commercial Agri-Tech opportunities in India for Agri-EPI and partners

As part of the UK’s new Technology Partnership with India, Agri-EPI Centre will be part of a trade delegation travelling to the cities of Chandigarh, New Delhi and Mumbai in December, taking part in a major tech festival along the way.

As the world’s the largest single agricultural market, farming contributes 16 per cent of India’s GDP, employing 49% of the Indian workforce on 160 million hectares of arable land to provide food for 1.3 billion people. With more than half of the Indian population expected to live in urban areas by 2050 and agricultural workers dropping to just over a quarter of the total workforce, mechanisation and technology will play an increasingly important role in improving the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of Indian agriculture.

Led by the UK Government’s Department for International Trade, the UK trade delegation will meet with senior policy makers in the Indian Government, three State Governments and private sector companies. The aim will be to gain insight of local market conditions, opportunities and challenges while building a collaborative network with senior decision makers, influencers, academics and buyers in the Indian agri-tech industry.

The programme will start north of Delhi in the combined Punjab/Haryana state capital, Chandigarh, and will include a roundtable with both state governments, progressive farmers and academic institutions.

On 12 December, the delegation will attend the ‘India-UK Future Tech Festival in Delhi, where they will participate in the ‘Path Breaking Innovations in Agriculture’ session. This will involve key officials in Indian Government, private businesses, research organisations and UK Government ministerial attendance.

Following the festival, the delegation head on to Mumbai to interact with leading private businesses as well as the Government of Maharashtra. The delegates will end their trip with visits to farms in the Nashik region, India’s leading wine-growing area. Watch this space for a report on the trip in early January!

Meanwhile, Agri-EPI Centre member Willand Group Ltd is holding an event in London on 15 January for businesses wishing to learn more about accessing the Indian agricultural market.

The ‘Opportunities for Agri-Tech: Indian Market Catalyst Event’ will offer a summary of the market and highlight the key opportunities available to UK/EU companies. Companies will also have an opportunity to ‘pitch’ to investors and businesses which are actively looking for investment opportunities. More information is available here.

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5G no leafy country lane

Duncan Forbes, Manager of our South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset has been blogging about this 5G Farm, as part of the 5G RuralFirst project. In his latest post he writes:

Rural 5G is no leafy country lane – it’s a data super highway set to put farming in the fast lane!

Sensors are go!

We’ve been busy at the Agri-EPI Centre’s South West Dairy Development Centre equipping our 180-strong herd with Afimilk Silent Herdsman sensors – a key element in our activities as one of the three 5G RuralFirst testbeds. The sensors are fitted to the cows’ collars to measure health parameters including rumination, eating, fertility and health.

As a cow steps into one of the robotic milkers, sensors recognise the animal, record her health and fertility status and know how much milk she is expected to give. The rapid growth in wearable technology, data analytics and automation has the potential to revolutionise how dairy cows are milked and cared for.

It’s important to acknowledge that amongst all this exciting tech, we must never lose sight of the two essential elements of any dairy farm – the cows and the people who care for them. As we develop new technology, we must ensure that the advances benefit one or both of these constants.

Technology such as the Afimilk sensors and robotic milkers are giving us more and more information about the animals which means we can keep an even closer eye on their health and welfare. That’s good from an animal welfare point of view but it is also important in an economic sense – farmers need to get a good return on their investment in order to keep on producing good, healthy food.

Why called a 5G farm?

The rapidly growing number of sensors in farming are generating huge quantities of data. The strong, consistent connectivity that 5G can provide will ensure farmers can get the most out of this data. While farming technology is being adopted at a very fast rate, at present most of that technology connects by one means or another to a PC in the farm office.

It then connects through to the internet which is notoriously slow in most rural areas. 5G offers an opportunity to bypass a series of those steps along the way with the potential to pick up data directly from the sensors on the cows, bypass any need for a PC on the farm, get the data onto the cloud, combine it with other relevant data and deliver management support information directly back to farm staff. This data “round trip” could take only milliseconds allowing staff to make instant, informed decisions about livestock welfare and management.

The 5G Rural First project is going to explore the benefits of achieving this massively accelerated connectivity from sensors such as the Afimilk Silent Herdsman and other emerging technology on the dairy farm.

Farmers have suffered from very poor connectivity which limits the amount of data that can be transmitted.  This hasn’t stopped the development of agricultural technology and the industry has found many clever ways to get around the issue, but imagine if we can remove those barriers by having a fantastic highway for data that is 5G – the potential is enormous to transform data into useful information that can help revolutionise the management of livestock and the productivity of UK farming.

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Source: 5GRuralFirst