I am a software engineer and work at a big reputed eCommerce company in USA. I work on complex technical problems and feel that applying such technology to agriculture would be a boon.
To give examples of the problems we solve:
a. We crunch a lot of data and predict what kind of ads should we be serving so that we get the highest page visits and revenue.
b. Which customer is the most likely to buy an item?
c. What kind of products a customer would be interested in and how do we maximize our revenue from a single customer?
d. How do we optimize the supply chain so that we save a lot of money and could pass those benefits to customers?
e. What are the real time prices for products offered by different competitors and how do we real time optimize the pricing of our products?
f. How do we source products from sellers and how to connect buyers to sellers etc.
Long story short, we compute a lot of data and extract intelligent information and solve business problems at scale using state of art algorithms and technology. We also use latest tools of cloud computing and help create systems which optimize workflows for our business.
During my experience of solving such problems, I have been thinking of other applications of such innovative technologies in India and immediately felt that Agriculture seemed to be a market which is in need of such tools and technologies. Given that 60% of Indian population and 20% of Indian GDP comes from agriculture sector, any innovative solutions coming from application of software would immensely benefit our farmers and small businesses.
Examples of ideas for agriculture would be:
a. Gather a lot of data like real time weather data, historical data about what kind of fertilizers used, the amount used, the yield data, pricing information, data about diseases, real time data from sensors, irrigation etc. and extract intelligent information. The big idea is to convert the practice of agriculture from art and experience to being based on data.
b. Monitoring real time pricing of products.
c. Understanding supply chain for businesses and help optimizing that.
d. Helping manage end to end farming workflow. Getting real time status updates, managing labor, integration with smartphones, local languages etc.
e. Connecting buyers and suppliers real time.
My question to this group would be:
a. What do you think are your biggest requirements for application of software to your business?
b. What are the kinds of problems you or other people in the sector face where building such systems would be immensely beneficial and have big impact?
I also have a few other friends who are interested in this problem space and we would like to know more to see if we can leverage our knowledge and build good products for our farmers and agro businesses.