Digitization in Indian Agriculture with AWS

As digital transformation of India is picking up speed to fulfill the vision of a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, the agricultural sector remains no exception to it. The government plans to improve the online infrastructure by increasing internet connectivity and providing rural areas with high-speed internet networks to provide government services (especially to small farmers) and to accomplish universal digital literacy.

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Case Study: IFFCO leveraging cloud computing capabilities with AWS

The IFFCO (Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited) is one of the largest cooperative societies globally comprising 36,000 member cooperatives, 55 million farmers with a turnover of around INR 30,0000 crore during 2019–20. It has a mandate to look after the welfare of India’s farmers by producing and marketing fertilizers.

Farmers have to walk long distances to procure essential commodities and responding to the Prime Minister’s call for digitization, IFFCO wanted to connect all rural farmers and cooperative societies in the country on a single digital platform i.e. through it’s e-commerce venture. So, the company launched a new portal called the Indian Cooperative Digital Platform.

The e-commerce platform caters to two customer segments: rural farmers and the fast expanding urban customers who need supplies for home and kitchen gardens; terrace gardens, lawns, etc. The portal is available in 13 major Indian languages.

AWS comes in…

IFFCO has been using an on-premises environment and a colocation environment to run several workloads. The e-commerce venture is a complex deployment requiring integrations with multiple third-party vendors such as logistics and delivery, warehousing facilities, payment gateways, etc. Also IFFCO has also integrated with Common Service Centers (an initiative by the Government of India for providing e-services to the rural population).

It’s deployed on the AWS infrastructure which consists of 12 Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances supporting web, application, and database servers. The e-commerce capabilities were delivered using Magento, which sits within an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) and runs on Amazon EC2 M5 Instances. Records of purchases and details of customers are stored in Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). Multiple application programming interfaces (APIs) connect the AWS Cloud infrastructure with the order-management system of the logistics company that delivers orders within seven days.

The majority of customers were farmers from rural areas who were a mix of literate, semi-literate, and illiterate and were neither too tech savvy. So, the best way to communicate was through the use of graphics (i.e. images and videos) rather than text. The media ingestion workflow was created using AWS Lambda that enabled the availability of the videos on any internet-enabled devices, regardless of their OS.

As soon as a video is uploaded to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Lambda initiates Amazon Elastic Transcoder to convert the media file into versions that can be played on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. The content is then delivered to these devices via Amazon CloudFront, ensuring a consistently good viewing experience.

To achieve the security objectives access to resources are IAM-based and launch environments are scripted in CloudFormation to programmatically enforce configuration compliance. Policies are continuously monitored by AWS CloudWatch, Config and CloudTrail to ensure adherence via log tracking. In case of deviation, CloudWatch triggers alert and notification is sent to take preventive measures.

Extending e-commerce to the farming community is an important step in the digital transformation of India.

“We are digitizing agriculture in India with AWS — empowering farmers with e-commerce accessibility. In addition, by showcasing videos on effective crop farming, farmers have been able to increase their crop yields by more than 25 percent,” says Mr. Anil Kumar Gupta, general manager of IT Services at IFFCO.

Benifits of using AWS

  1. Deployment time is much shorter.
  2. Easy resource management.
  3. No procurement cycle.
  4. Facility of AWS Auto Scaling to make it highly scalable on demand.
  5. AWS continuous monitoring for real-time visibility, vulnerability detection and remediation.
  6. Improved digital customer experience with fast page loads.

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