The State's agriculture sector hopes to make extensive use of space technology for enabling smart farming practices under the newly-formed value-added agriculture mission (VAAM).
A working paper on value-added agriculture prepared by the Agriculture department in connection with the formation of VAAM has recommended collaborations with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
VAAM has the primary objective of doubling farmer incomes by fine-tuning production, value addition, and marketing of farm produce. Announced in the 2022-23 State Budget, VAAM was cleared by the Cabinet in mid-September and its guidelines were issued on September 24.
The department is eyeing the benefits to agriculture offered by space-tech capabilities such as satellite imaging, remote sensing, geolocation, and connectivity.
“Space-based technologies offer multiple benefits to horticulture operations today, and they are the key enabler for precision agriculture, smart farming, predictive farming technologies, and automation. Data collection, mapping, and weather monitoring using space-based technologies nurture agriculture ecosystems with valuable insights for sustainable operations,’‘ the working paper noted.
In line with this proposal, the department also hopes to explore the possibilities offered by robotics and drones in the farming sector.
The working paper lists potential value-added products that can be produced in each of the 14 districts. For instance, banana-rich districts such as Palakkad, Kozhikode, Wayanad, and Thiruvananthapuram can bring out fruit bars, fibre-rich chocolates, banana peel pasta, and banana pickle.
Likewise, Kannur and Kasaragod can produce cashew juice and related beverages, biscuits, jam, and cashew apple syrup. Pathanamthitta and Wayanad, focussing on jackfruit, can bring out vegan meat, gluten-free pasta, jackfruit ice-cream and jams, the paper suggests.
VAAM is chaired by the Chief Minister. The Ministers for Agriculture and Industries are vice chairs. The governing body has eight ministers. It has a State-level Chief Operating Officer.