Transforming Rural India with Project Garv

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. How to Enable Digital Inclusion?
  2. When Should a Farmer Time his Initial Tillage?

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

How to Enable Digital Inclusion?

As we explore 5G’s penetration, we have had a chance to delve deep into rural economies. There are always a few unintended but very prevalent notions. The first is that villages are a standalone unit but one thought around this clearly reveals that this is not true. The second is that of simplicity we associate with rural lives. We think and feel lives are simple. But let me illustrate how agriculture is as complex if not more than corporate decision making.

In Orchha in Tikamgarh district, which lies in Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh, a farmer has to make a few critical decisions before the planting season every year. Orccha, by the way, is surrounded by picturesque monuments built by Bundela Rajputs, but destitution touches this region on a daily basis.
Let’s take the soil here. Bundelkhand soil covers an impervious rock found at depth of 6-15 m. it has little in terms of moisture retention or organic content. Some varieties called Pahari are totally unsuitable for farming due to it being over granite with little nitrogen and phosphorous content.  Parua Soil has little clay but considerable sand which is a huge challenge. One of the best is Kabar, which has high retention, clay content and ideal for Jowar and Bajra. Mar is another variety with good organic content and water retention is high enough to support rice and grams.
Agri strategies vary with different soils. As corporate Executives, we tend to have loads of data for us and analyse it to make a choice like this. Farmers rely on nothing but their hunches and what we may call as “bhed-chaal”.
To complicate matters further soil erosion is a huge factor. Rainfall is concentrated only in Monsoons and averages a mere 930mm. Farming here is a skilful activity and risky activity. Again, look at how we solve problems and how a poor farmer solves his dilemma.
Decisions are many/ Should you plant annual crops: the ones that produce seed and die within the season (like rice, maize, wheat)? Should you branch out to perennial crops like sugarcane living for 3-4 years. Or do you want a crop like pulses which take 75 days to mature or cotton and mustard which are 150 days crops?

When Should a Farmer Time his Initial Tillage?

Does any crop-selection decision depend on soil, the money you can make, input costs, choice of how much you want your land to be occupied? With sugarcane, for example, you make a long term commitment but what if you get stuck with sugar mills not paying you as is the case currently in UP? In district Shamli in UP, the situation is so bad right now that farmers have taken over mills and simply not allowing them to function. They simply have had enough and now are saying we just won’t let this run. If you go with pulses, it requires more work. Cotton being a cash crop is a different deal altogether and you better know who to sell to and know how to get money out of them.

Crop choice is also a way to control the quality of your land. Pulses, for example, fix nitrogen into the soil. Soil erosion can be prevented by crops like groundnuts and sweet potato. (you may have seen an increase in the amount of sweet potato in the market and its due to both increased demand but also due to soil erosion increasing tremendously and farmers choosing sweet potato to exacerbate the impact of erosion).
A slight mistake in any dimension can wreak havoc.
Having seen this first hand, we are convinced that digital technology and decision support systems are the way ahead in farming. Imagine an AI tool to allow making choices.. an IoT system to allow precision agriculture and all empowered with Fibre and backbone to enable making better choices.
So next time all of us sit down with hoards of data and excel sheets with analysis to make a corporate decision, do wish and hope that Sterlite Garv reaches the farmers who could greatly benefit from the offerings.

FAQs

What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

An optical fibre cable is a cable type that has a few to hundreds of optical fibres bundled together within a protective plastic coating. They help carry digital data in the form of light pulses across large distances at faster speeds. For this, they need to be installed or deployed either underground or aerially. Standalone fibres cannot be buried or hanged so fibres are bunched together as cables for the transmission of data.

This is done to protect the fibre from stress, moisture, temperature changes and other externalities. There are three main components of a optical fibre cable, core (It carries the light and is made of pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) with dopants such as germania, phosphorous pentoxide, or alumina to raise the refractive index; Typical glass cores range from as small as 3.7um up to 200um), Cladding (Cladding surrounds the core and has a lower refractive index than the core, it is also made from the same material as the core; 1% refractive index difference is maintained between the core and cladding; Two commonly used diameters are 125µm and 140µm) and Coating (Protective layer that absorbs shocks, physical damage and moisture; The outside diameter of the coating is typically either 250µm or 500µm; Commonly used material for coatings are acrylate,Silicone, carbon, and polyimide).

An optical fibre cable is made up of the following components: Optical fibres – ranging from one to many. Buffer tubes (with different settings), for protection and cushioning of the fibre. Water protection in the tubes – wet or dry. A central strength member (CSM) is the backbone of all cables. Armoured tapes for stranding to bunch the buffer tubes and strength members together. Sheathing or final covering to provide further protection.

The five main reasons that make this technology innovation disruptive are fast communication speed, infinite bandwidth & capacity, low interference, high tensile strength and secure communication. The major usescases of optical fibre cables include intenet connectivity, computer networking, surgery & dentistry, automotive industry, telephony, lighting & decorations, mechanical inspections, cable television, military applications and space.

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