Buy Vs Build: What Matters Most While Opting for Smart Farming Technology?

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Did you know that the world’s population grew from 1.6 billion to over 7 billion between 1900 and 2012? Let us make that even more interesting with this little fact — figures from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) suggest that total land required for farming increased by 12.4 million acres (i.e. 5 million hectares) annually between 1992 and 2002.

The most important thing to remember while reading these two mind-boggling facts is that the size of the Earth is still the same. It is not like our home sprouted an additional wing that we could immediately put to use. The reality is that what is available to us for cultivation remains the same.

How do we come up with smart, sustainable methods of cultivating food to meet the growing needs of an expanding world? Agriculture technology benefits every stage in the food production and distribution process. From harnessing satellite and ground-level data to improve cultivation and harvesting methods to monitoring the health of farms for accurate yield assessment throughout the cultivation cycle — the use of smart farming technology lends a high level of predictability to agriculture that was unheard of until now.

Right from intelligent farm management solutions to storage and warehousing facilities, agribusinesses around the world are focusing on adding technology to their practice in order to be more efficient. A recent research report predicts that the global smart farming market is expected to touch $23.14 billion by 2022, rising at a compound annual growth rate of 19.3% from 2017 to 2022.

Once the obvious merits of adopting digital technology and smart farming practices are clear, organizations often find themselves grappling with the quintessential technology dilemma — whether to build the capabilities in-house or look for an outsourced solution. We are here to provide some clarity around this very pertinent question encountered by every agribusiness while contemplating the inevitable reality of going digital.

Here are a few factors that should be kept in mind while deciding between a robust outsourced solution versus taking the bold step of building the capabilities in-house.

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YOU NEED A HIGH LEVEL OF TECHNICAL EXPERTISE

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For farm management solutions to be truly effective, it needs to draw from the experience and knowledge of a skilled multi-disciplinary team that can combine their technical know-how with a keen understanding of agricultural best practices. This helps in ensuring that every aspect of the cultivation process is taken care of in a manner that guarantees success. Platforms like Cropin’s rely on the knowledge and expertise of a team of seasoned data scientists, researchers, agronomists, and technologists to continuously build features that are positioned to revolutionize the process of food production.

IT NEEDS TO BE A SCALABLE SOLUTION TO CONTINUOUSLY GENERATE IMPACT

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We are at an interesting point in our growth story. Every year brings new advancements in digital technology that can be applied to agriculture to include newer efficiencies and enhancements to existing processes. A comprehensive farm management software is one that is flexible enough to adapt to these improvements and can scale with the pace of technology. Often, in-house solutions tend to focus on one or a few of the areas and fail to incorporate the entire gamut of farm operations. This limits their ability to scale at the pace that the industry is evolving.

IT IS NOT EASY TO MAINTAIN AN ARMY OF SPECIALISTS

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A successful product, irrespective of the industry, is dependent on the combined efforts of a hugely talented group that rallies together for the same goal. It also means that different skill sets are required at varying stages of development. Building and maintaining such a team in-house translates to huge costs in terms of manpower. On the other hand, dedicated agriculture-tech providers already have a huge team of multi-disciplinary experts since they are constantly focused on developing and testing new features that improve the overall cultivation process.

IT TAKES A LOT LONGER TO BUILD A WORKABLE SOLUTION IN-HOUSE

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From utilizing regional and ground-level data to guide efficient cultivation practices to continuous monitoring of crop health to foresee and prevent any risk, robust farm management software touches every stage of the cultivation process. Building such a solution requires huge investments in terms of time and resources and it could take years to come up with a workable prototype. Outsourcing such capabilities to a specialist allows agribusinesses to reap the benefits of smart farming a lot faster. The overall rate of innovation is also accelerated since dedicated technology providers are focused on continuously improving their offerings with every breakthrough advancement in the field.

THE COSTS ARE A LOT HIGHER WHEN YOU ARE BUILDING IT YOURSELF

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The biggest differentiator between building a farm management software in-house versus buying an existing solution lies in the overall cost incurred while building such software. Right from hiring the right team and developing and testing the software on a continuous basis, to investing in research and innovation to stay on top of any new technological advancements in the field — there are huge costs involved at every stage of the process. Even after building a successful product, it needs to constantly be improved with regular updates and feature enhancements in order to stay relevant and useful. It is a lot more cost-effective to outsource such a solution to a technology provider who has the resources to implement and maintain such software without any hassles.

It goes without saying that every aspect of food production and distribution stands to benefit from the use of digital technology in agriculture. However, ultimately choosing whether to build a farm management software or buy an existing solution ultimately rests on the individual priorities of the business. Irrespective of the path chosen, these are some of the points worth considering while making an informed decision about whether to outsource your digital agriculture technology needs or build your team in-house.

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