wordpress blog stats
Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

55 orgs, groups write to govt seeking transparency on Agristack and other digital moves around agriculture

Credit: Kisan Ekta Morcha Twitter

As many as 55 organisations, collectives, and groups have written to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, criticising the government’s recent projects around farmers and technology, particularly Agristack. The organisations include Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) – Kisan Swaraj, Article 21 Trust, Association For Democratic Rights (Punjab), IT for Change, Jai Kisan Andolan, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), South Indian Organic Producers and Retailers Association, Internet Freedom Foundation, among many others.

Pointing to the memorandum of understanding between the Ministry and Microsoft, which the groups say allude to Agristack, the letter stated that the developments are taking place in a policy vacuum around data privacy of farmers and other related issues. On April 14, the government said it had signed an MoU with Microsoft to a pilot project in 100 villages “to develop farmer interface for smart and well-organized agriculture, including post-harvest management and distribution”. The release stated that the government is preparing a farmer database by integrating land records countrywide with PM Kisan, Soil Health Cards, and the Pradhan Mantri Crop Insurance Scheme as well as other data; geotagging of assets would also be done.

This sounds very similar to the union government’s Agristack, a collection of technologies and digital databases focused on India’s agriculture, per the groups’ letter to the Minister.

It will not be surprising that corporations will approach this as one more profit-making possibility, as a market for so-called ‘solutions’ which lead to sale of unsustainable agri-inputs combined with greater loans and indebtedness of farmers for this through fintech, as well as the increased threat of dispossession by private corporations. All this is apart from the widely documented exclusion and other issues related to the central role that Aadhaar plays in this ecosystem.

Agristack relies on techno-solutionism and will give rise to new problems such as usurious lending practices, exploitation of farmers by procurers, reduced agency of farmers, reduced transparency around algorithmic decision making, among other things, the letter noted.

According to the statement, reduced transparency around algorithmic decisions “includes the strong possibility of the database leveraging process using AI techniques that has the danger, either inadvertently or intentionally, of control systems becoming autonomous and even misaligned intelligence directing goals that are not set to our purpose. Lack of an AI policy and a legal security net in India, enhances such a danger”.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The groups and collectives have requested the government to:

  1. Hold stakeholder consultation, especially with farmers’ organisations, on the direction of the digital push and the basis of the partnerships, and then issue a policy paper. State governments must also be consulted.
  2. Put on hold all initiatives with private entities on multiple databases with private information about farmers until:
    1. The policy framework mentioned above is finalised by the ministry
    2. The data protection law is passed by Parliament
  3. Place the MoU between the government and Microsoft in the public domain; along with any financial commitments or implications

Read more 

Written By

I cover health, policy issues such as intermediary liability, data governance, internet shutdowns, and more. Hit me up for tips.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

Views

News

When news that Walmart would soon accept cryptocurrency turned out to be fake, it also became a teachable moment.

News

The DSCI's guidelines are patient-centric and act as a data privacy roadmap for healthcare service providers.

News

In this excerpt from the book, the authors focus on personal data and autocracies. One in particular – Russia.  Autocracies always prioritize information control...

News

By Jai Vipra, Senior Resident Fellow at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy The use of new technology, including facial recognition technology (FRT) by police...

News

By Stella Joseph, Prakhil Mishra, and Yash Desai The Government of India circulated proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 (“E-Commerce Rules”) which...

You May Also Like

News

Rajesh Kumar* doesn’t have many enemies in life. But, Uber, for which he drives a cab everyday, is starting to look like one, he...

News

By Aroon Deep and Aditya Chunduru You’re reading it here first: Twitter has complied with government requests to censor 52 tweets that mostly criticised...

Advert

135 job openings in over 60 companies are listed at our free Digital and Mobile Job Board: If you’re looking for a job, or...

News

Google has released a Google Travel Trends Report which states that branded budget hotel search queries grew 179% year over year (YOY) in India, in...

MediaNama is the premier source of information and analysis on Technology Policy in India. More about MediaNama, and contact information, here.

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ

Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Name:*
Your email address:*
*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ