Dr Ashish Agarwal, Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer, Weather Risk Management Services (WRMS)
In recent years, technology-driven products, services, and solutions have substantially improved the dairy business in India. The third white revolution in this country will be largely brought about and sustained by technology. The use of technology in the dairy sector has expanded from automated/mechanised milk collecting and testing milk composition at the village level to real-time milk procurement, evaluation of overall milk quality criteria, automatic dairy plant operation, and other activities. One may now track data and information at the farmer level in the milk pool with the click of a button. Additionally, technology is making significant strides toward modernising and revolutionising the other key areas of the dairy industry.
For the unorganised Indian dairy industry to become more structured, the appropriate technology and its effective application are essential. The majority of the challenges encountered while handling a perishable commodity like milk can only be overcome by adopting technological innovations. The goal is to digitise as many data points as possible.
Some areas where technology has played a key role and where implementation is expected to increase
Freshness and Quality of Milk: Milk is a perishable commodity. If not chilled in time, including through pasteurisation, freezing, and other preservation techniques, it has a tendency to become stale or undergo significant irreversible quality decline. Thanks to technological improvements, milk can now be processed so that it can be used for a longer period of time and its freshness can be detected. At the farmer, dairy plant, and consumer levels, it is now possible to estimate milk purity, microbiological load, adulterants, and shelf life by deploying technology-based apps and programmes. Technology-driven devices are taking on the responsibilities of several quality criteria that previously required well-established laboratories, wet chemistry techniques, and time-consuming methodologies.
Monitoring Supply Chain Systems: The dairy supply chain in India is very complicated because it depends on so many factors such as cold temperatures, weather conditions, shelf life, etc. One commodity that must be delivered to consumers as soon as possible and in the best condition is milk. As a result, technology is crucial for ensuring timely distribution, cold chain upkeep, and other factors. Participants in the supply chain can effectively manage inventory as well. The cold chain management system is anticipated to develop quickly. Instead of being limited to insulated/refrigerated trucks, warehouses, or cold stores/freezers, cold chain systems are now mounted at the shelf level in malls or marketplaces.
E-commerce Marketplace: The only thing that connects buyers and sellers is technology. The seller is connected on the back end to the farmers and suppliers in order to guarantee or monitor the milk supply. The supplier may easily guarantee product traceability on both ends of forward and backward links. Farmers and dairy producers would be able to access doorstep services on their smartphones, especially given the technology they currently have and the advisory services that have been made possible by technological advancements.
Key initiatives of 2022
Farm Management: A dairy farm needs to make sure that every aspect of its business is run effectively. Farm management systems can be used to digitise input and operational procedures. Access to energy, the digital revolution, and a reasonably priced smartphone with access to bigger markets, verifiable knowledge, and high-quality services are the first steps toward empowering farmers. Thanks to technological improvements, a farmer can now easily manage large herd sizes using an app-based system that can run on mobile phones. Online payments to farmers are lowering costs, enabling financial independence, and greatly easing business processes.
The herd record, cow performance, control of the breeding cycle, lactation cycle, and vaccination schedule are all maintained in such handy ways that alerts are provided for a specific farm/cow activity that is needed. A few applications allow you to assess the nutritional requirements of cows and feed them accordingly. The entire operation of a dairy farm will be automated and digitalised by these applications. Using RFID-based chips, farmers may continuously monitor the health, food, lactation, health issues, pregnancy, and other characteristics of their cattle. Large dairy farms in the country are already using robotic milking machines and herd tracking drones to manage their herds.
Product Traceability: Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about the nutritional content and sources of their diets. Retention of customers depends on the food supply chain’s capacity to be tracked. Technology is being increasingly used by dairy producers to communicate with farmers about the whereabouts of their products as well as the techniques of processing and consumption. Using technology, such as a QR code on their phones, customers can also track the collection, packaging, shipment, and storage of their purchases.
Projected Key Trends for 2023
2022 witnessed a number of tech developments in the dairy sector. And 2023 already looks to be shaping up to be an interesting one with the increased pressure on companies to script the next phase growth of the dairy sector with new tech interventions.
Dairy industry growth will depend on new innovations and the drive to meet new consumer demands. And the top dairy companies are going to be utilising these three distinct dairy industry trends in order to get a head this year.
Digital banking: Digital banking, digital payments, and fintech will play a key role going forward in the livestock industry by making it faster for farmers to get paid for milk and other services they provide.
Sustainable practices: One of the largest trends taking shape in the dairy industry currently is sustainable practices. The year 2023 will see the dairy industry’s growth heavily depend on companies taking ownership of their negative impacts by reusing waste, saving water, and making sure the air stays clean.
Tech interventions: In India, dairy farming is unorganised, so technology penetration is relatively less; however, in the past few years, numerous startups have emerged in this space. One of the key areas where digitalisation can play a significant impact is cattle management. Farmers can track cattle feeding patterns and monitor their health by leveraging IoT and advanced analytics. This is likely to boost cattle productivity and milk yield. However, cattle monitoring via AI-based solutions is still in its infancy in India but will mushroom in times to come.
Achieving Tech Adoption
The Indian dairy industry is truly at a turning point, with countless opportunities to increase its influence globally. The dairy business may play a critical role in democratising India’s entrepreneurial landscape and bringing rural communities into the mainstream as we observe a fundamentally changed global paradigm. With appropriate adoption of technology, the Indian dairy sector can scale to new heights that will benefit the dairy farmers as well as the consumers.