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Accepted Paper:

Digitalisation of agriculture in India: Impact on small holders and marginal farmers  
Christina Sathyamala (Institute for Human Development) Susanne Jaspars (SOAS University of London)

Short abstract:

Farmers in India are protesting against new farms laws which plan to digitalise agriculture. This paper will argue that although the small and marginal farmers are not part of this mobilisation, they would experience a greater negative impact. The paper uses empirical data from Central India

Long abstract:

This paper is about the digitalisation of farm practices and the impact on small-holders in India. In 2020, three new farm laws were introduced which urged farmers to use smart technology. This entailed, for example, online platforms to provide timely information about local prices and supply, and technologies to advise farmers on ‘precision agriculture’ - on inputs, soil health, weather, and crops to be sown. Despite these alleged benefits, these laws have been met with unprecedented protests by farmers across the country since December 2020. Farmers are against the new laws because they fear that liberalising, deregulating, digitalising agriculture, and opening up the market by loosening state control, will usher in the corporatisation of Indian agriculture. Even though these laws were repealed, the farmers’ lobby is planning to launch fresh protests to compel the government to enact pro-farmers’ policies. The face of the protests are large land-holders from the northern part of the country, particularly Punjab and Haryana, which benefitted during the Green Revolution in the late 1960s. This paper argues that while there does not appear to be much mobilisation among small-holders, they would be seriously affected by the new laws. The laws would ultimately lead to further pauperization of rural India.

This paper uses preliminary findings from research on the digitalisation of food assistance, to illustrate the effect of digitalisation on small-holder farmers from central India. These farmers did not benefit from the Green Revolution but form the bulk of rural households.

Traditional Open Panel P210
Digital technologies in food and agriculture: merging STS with Critical Agrifood Studies
  Session 2 Tuesday 16 July, 2024, -