For a holistic solution to food security long term thinking is warranted, which not only addresses the science, but also innovation dispersion, new research and ecosystem development. There is much more that can be done in collaboration with government, industry, universities and philanthropic participation both locally and internationally to achieve these objectives. The following is a list of active lines of inquiry that are being explored by the ExoCortex and its partners.
National Practice Expansion
- Erode Project - TNAU & ExoCortex , is currently evaluating the future expansion of the pilot to Erode. The climatic, political, and economic conditions in Tamil Nadu is sufficiently distinct that by addressing identical water conservation issues, we demonstrate the potential for precision farming to positively impact any farm in India. A potential cooperative of farmers has been identified as a target pilot segment for this expansion. A NASF proposal for 2.8cr has already been submitted by ExoCortex , in partnership with KAU.
- IIT/UBA Kanpur Project – The UBA program under IIT Kanpur covers 5 villages in Kanpur - Saksapurva, Baikunthpur, Haridaipur, Pratapur, Ishwariganj. The 2176 households in this area, includes 1280 farmers cultivating 1720 acres of agricultural land. A regional expansion program into these villages will follow a successful pilot with support from local government and agricultural funding agencies (eg: NABARD) in 2019. The aim is to create a regional precision farming cluster to pioneer the expansion of the practice in the country. A successful pilot has the potential to scale up across the nation.
Innovation & Research
- Aquifer Replenishment: Aquifers in the Indian subcontinent are depleting at an alarming rate. Sustainable farming depends of replenishment of this precious resource. So, conserving water must also mean finding ways to replenish it. Current check and recharge dam 44 construction programs, augmented by geo-spatial analytics 43, in Rajasthan demonstrates how the falling Aquifers in Baikhuntpur could potentially be recovered. A check dam program in partnership with its leading proponent, Aakar Charitable Trust can potentially achieve the expected result.
- Polyhouse Precision Farming Pilot: Although closed farm techniques like polyhouses are the likely future of agriculture in a world with unpredictable climates, its capital costs overheads make it unsustainable in today's Indian economic climate; however, it will become relevant once farming incomes increase over time. In anticipation of this trend, a pilot polyhouse will be deployed with our precision farming technology in Kanpur.
- Just-In-Time Harvest: A sustainable future of food is only possible if farmer incomes rise. For that to happen, the entire farm-to-fork value chain will need to be streamlined. One possible way is to eliminate the middle men. Market forces are rapidly moving in that direction. For example, Amazon today, contracts the entire villages producing rice it Bargarh district in Orissa. This would minimize food waste in distribution 14, while raising farmer income. However, if the supply chain logistics were inverted from a pull to a push-based model, further gains in efficiency is possible. Automated intelligent farms advising a digital supply chain on crops available for harvest, in real-time, can significantly reduce the time food take to move from farm to table. As a third of all food is wasted in distribution, this model has the potential to significantly reduce food prices. We are in early discussions with researchers at Flipkart, India's largest e-commerce company, to explore these possibilities.