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A satellite just for agriculture

Special Correspondent
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Scientists working on a system to generate data on crop growth, production

Planting the idea: K. Kasturirangan, member, Planning Commission (extreme right), speaking at a function held at the CFTRI in Mysore on Thursday. — PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
Planting the idea: K. Kasturirangan, member, Planning Commission (extreme right), speaking at a function held at the CFTRI in Mysore on Thursday. — PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

India is poised to launch a dedicated agricultural satellite, Agrisat, during the 12th Five-year Plan. The satellite will help monitor all agricultural features in the country and harness its technology for better yield.

This was disclosed by K. Kasturirangan, member, Planning Commission and the former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He was speaking to presspersons at the sidelines of an award ceremony at the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) in the city on Thursday.

Dr. Kasturirangan said Agrisat was in the conceptual stage and scientists were working on it. He said the use of dedicated satellite technology to harness agricultural efficiency stemmed from the capabilities acquired by the use of general purpose instruments. “We have been using satellites with various instruments having broad capabilities for forestry, oceanography, hydrology and so on, and the technological systems developed are capable of doing several functions. But with a wide-field sensor, we can look at agriculture with more clarity,” said Dr. Kasturirangan.

“We need to use microwave instruments which can penetrate the clouds, and the dedicated satellite could help ascertain crop vigour and help study crop stress more effectively using wide-field sensor. So the scientists are trying to bring a family of instruments and sensors on satellites to improve its capabilities to look at agriculture and provide data on crop growth and production,” he added.

On the path

Dr. Kasturirangan said the configuration of the satellite systems could be achieved in six to eight months but development of sensors could take about two years and the satellite could be built during the 12th Plan.

Approach paper

He said the Planning Commission was working on the Approach Paper for the 12th Plan and emphasis would be on contribution of science and technology to social and development sectors like health, energy, education and water. He said even the industry was looking at research in science and technology and the paper would underline the need for more industrial research.

Dr. Kasturirangan said that the Approach Paper was also toying with the idea of spreading defence research to the civilian domain apart from focus on enrichment of the universities to promote intellectual capabilities of the youth and create the right ambience to nurture them.

On food security

Earlier, Dr. Kasturirangan addressed scientists and students of CFTRI and spoke on the emerging technologies for enhancing food security. He stressed the imperatives of tapping advances in the field of biotechnology. He said it was one of the key elements for the future of food security and the multidisciplinary mode promised developments in the field of agriculture. He said agriculture would have implications with reducing farm size, increasing population and non-availability of water, all of which had to be factored in while ensuring food security.

He said there was an ambitious programme to make agriculture knowledge-based by harnessing satellite technology, information technology and biotechnology, which could result in precision agriculture. Dr. Kasturirangan said space science and technology could be harnessed for providing correct estimation of green cover and water resources while satellite imageries could help warn the outbreak of pestilence and help arrest crop loss.


  • Agrisat is in the conceptual stage
  • It could be built during the 12th Five-year Plan

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