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Summary: Consultation paper published on India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA)

Under IDEA, the government plans to issue a unique ID number to every farmer and set up an interface that would handle multiple types of transactions in the digital agriculture space.

The Indian government is attempting to create an ‘Agristack’  along the lines of the NDHB and IndEA framework. The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare has introduced this stack as the India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA) and published a consultation paper for public feedback. 

The consultation paper can be viewed here.

IDEA Architecture

The paper states that IndEA 2.0 has been proposed as a set of architectural patterns meant to be adopted by small government departments to design their own ecosystem architectures. These patterns are defined in terms of Building Blocks. 

A ‘Building Block’ has been defined as “a reusable package of business or technological functionality” depending on the degree to which they are decentralised. These Blocks are further categorised into – 

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  1. Core Building Blocks: A single database at the national level designed, developed, and maintained by the government. 
  2. Common Building Blocks: They are developed and hosted by the Ministry on a multi-tenant framework, and can be shared by the States and other ecosystem entities optionally. 
  3. Reference Building Blocks: A reference building block has generic functionality which can be customised as needed. It is developed by the Ministry and the code is published as open source for download by the states or private sector organisations. 

The salient features of IDEA Architecture

IDEA Core’s foundational building blocks

  • Unique  Farmer ID (UFID): A unique number that is assigned to farmers across the country. 
  • IDEA Core Registries: A set of databases that contain the unique identifiers of entities, products, or services required to be registered with an authority of the Central Government under a statute, rule, or notification.
  • IDEA Core Directories: Core directories contain information akin to that in a registry, except that they are meant for administrative use and are not statutory in nature.
  • Master Codes: Identifiers of locations, products, and classifications that are required to be adopted uniformly by all organisations across the country.                                                                             
  • Unified Farmer Service Interface (UFSI): The UFSI’s role is comparable to UPI in the space of digital payments. It will handle multiple types of transactions in the digital agriculture space.                                                                  
  • IDEA Architecture Repository: All artifacts, building blocks, and codes will be hosted on the IDEA Portal according to the paper.

IDEA Common Building Blocks

  • IDEA Service Portal: It is stated that the portal shall comply with the Digital Service Standard notified by the MeitY.
  • IDEA App Store: A platform to find all the apps developed by the Ministry.
  • Call Centre: The existing Kisan Call Centre system(s) will likely be realigned in accordance with the IDEA principles
  • SMS (Messaging): The existing arrangements for sending out SMS advisories may be reviewed and aligned to IDEA. The use of chatbots may also be made part of the communication plan.
  • Weather Data: It is a single point of access for multiple datasets on weather through standard APIs.

Reference Building Blocks:

  • e-NAM: The e-NAM application will be converted into a reference application and hosted to enable AMCs that have adequate resources to take up fast track implementation.
  • GIS Layers and Tools: A set of OSS Products in geospatial technology may be positioned along with the most popularly used layers.
  • IDEA Sandbox or I-Box: This will be used to keep a track of compliances through data collected at various points from farmers.
  • Agri Data Exchange (or ADEx): It is going to be a platform for the exchange of data between multiple stakeholders.
  • State Core(s): The basic function of the State Core is to supposedly act as a bridge (i) between the various state departments and agencies and (ii) between a State department and the corresponding Ministry of GoI.
  • States’ Common Applications: It is implied that the applications already in force across states that collect data on farmers, should be mainstreamed into IDEA.

Proposed Standards

IDEA Standards or standards required for the digital ecosystem of the agriculture sector fall into two categories: domain standards and IT Standards. The former deals with standards relating to agricultural commodities and products, and the materials used to produce them. IT Standards relate to various technologies and data. 

Approach to developing Data Standards for IDEA:  The paper suggests the following guidelines for the development of standards – 

  1. An organisation may be established by the Ministry to create these standards.
  2. A multi-stakeholder governance system may be established with representation from academia, governments (central and state), and industry.
  3. A set of multi-disciplinary teams may form the organisation structure, to be responsible for the development of domain standards and IT standards.
  4. FAIR Standard: FAIR (Fast Agriculture Interoperability Resources) refers to standards that will enable exchange of information between organisations and systems including international markets as well.

Implementation Framework

The paper arrives at a conclusion for a federated implementation structure with a division of responsibilities between the Central and state governments. IDEA is proposed to be implemented by establishing a National Mission on Digital Agriculture (NMDA), as an autonomous wing within the National Farmers Welfare Society with an Advisory to guide it. 

It is also suggested that counterpart organisations may be established at the state-level, with partial funding from the Ministry.

The paper also mentions designing an impact assessment framework in order to assess the outcomes and impact on the targeted beneficiary groups.

Also Read:

55 Orgs, Groups Write To Govt Seeking Transparency On Agristack

Government Constitutes Task Force For Farmer Database Under AgriStack 

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