Evolution of AgriTech: Experts show the way

Evolution of Agritech

UPES students stand to benefit from the insights of advisory board members, comprising a diverse set of experts

The Industrial Revolution changed the face of agriculture forever. Humankind was able to invent tractors to plow the fields and later on developed more sophisticated machines like a combine or a harvester. The industrial revolution set us in motion for decades, and we continued to reap its benefits. Over time, the global population crossed the billion mark while arable land started to shrink due to soil infertility, climate change, and industrial waste. It was time for Agriculture to see a new revolution.

The advent of advanced technology gave birth to a new form of farming – Smart Farming. The industry started to leverage emerging technologies like Internet-of-Things, Big Data, Global Positioning Systems, to track, monitor, analyze, and automate operations. The agri-tech industry now had the power to improve yield while mitigating losses due to climate change. Crop data was used to analyze seed fertility, unmanned aerial vehicles started to map fields, and artificial intelligence began to predict climatic changes. Smart Farming and Precision Agriculture had opened new avenues in technology-driven agriculture coupled with business expansion for farmers and other stakeholders.

Gauging the evolving agri-tech landscape, professionals today need to be adept at skills not just in traditional agricultural education but also in technology, business development, and entrepreneurship. To foster holistic learning, UPES School of Smart Agriculture established its Advisory Board Members comprising of pioneers from several industries. The advisory board members mentor faculty and students in academics, tech-based agriculture practices, business development, and leadership. They assist students in developing a modern mindset while adapting to the changing dynamics of the sector.

With over two decades of experience in agriculture, Mr. Simon Wiebusch, Chief Operating Officer of the Crop Science Division of Bayer for India, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka, brings his vision of sustainable agriculture leveraging technology and advanced tools to our School. He firmly believes in the role of technology in improving the quality of food, increasing the yield, reducing manual labor, and meeting the demand of the growing population. His customer-centric approach and expertise in business growth and building teams that drive market share, will help students get a grasp of tech-driven agriculture combined with business management. Joining him is Dr. Raju Kapoor, Director, Corporate Affairs, FMC Corporation. Dr. Kapoor’s prowess in leading business functions from strategy to revenue, from operations to Public Relations, imparts our students with a competitive business acumen to make them future leaders in the field.

Research and Development is a critical component in agriculture education. Our board member, Dr. J. P. Sharma, Joint Director Extension, IARI, has researched highly relevant topics like assessment, refinement of agricultural technologies, peri-urban agriculture, and entrepreneurship development, in his illustrious career of 28 years. A reputed author and trainer, Dr. Sharma’s proficiency in strategic research and teaching post-graduate students, provides an academic edge to our students. Strengthening the concepts of IoT, Dr. Manoj Gupta, Principal Consultant – Digital & Sustainable Agriculture, Infosys, shares his dexterity in leveraging IoT in agriculture. His areas of interest include smart warehouse management, disease and yield prediction, sustainability assessment, automated irrigation system, and smart warehouse management. An established figure, Dr. Gupta, guide our students in understanding the intricacies of applying IoT and how to best leverage it across all stages of agriculture, including supply chain and research and development.

Today, agriculture has generated interest in entrepreneurship with several agro-startups joining the sector. Inculcating the right mindset to adapt to the changing equation in agri-business, Mr. Kumaar Priyaranjan, President, Human Capital & CSR, Hikal Limited, brings on board his vast experience in organization design, organization development, change management, culture transformation, and leadership development, gathered over his career of 27 years working across several industries globally. He is joined by Dr. P. C. Chaudhri, an exponential figure in the field of rural development. Dr. Chaudhri has worked with notable entities like IFFCO, NABARD, and Punjab National Bank. He guides our students in rural financing, corporate planning, human resource, and legal aspects.

The future of the Agriculture industry is poised for growth with more inclusion of technology. Smart Farming and Precision Agriculture is already catching momentum in India, and several startups have joined the race to improve production while practicing sustainable farming. To lead this revolution, professionals must have a comprehensive knowledge of conventional agriculture practices juxtaposed with competency in technology and business. Benefitting from the expertise of other Schools, state-of-the-art labs, and global tie-ups, School of Smart Agriculture is uniquely positioned to provide holistic learning and produce industry-ready professionals. It currently runs two undergraduate programmes and one post graduate programme. Visit upes.ac.in to learn more on admissions and scholarships.

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