Role of GIS in Agro-Marketing


Pramit Das
Faculty Member - Marketing

While out-stationed if you feel home sick, you have the privilege of wikimapia or goggle earth. "Operation Vijay" would have been won without the cost of valuable lives of 800 Indian troopers. The key word that links your individual problem with your national glory is Geographical Information System (GIS). From recent anti-terror arrests in Birmingham, UK to track infiltration in LOC is result of High resolution GIS Surveillance.

GIS has many roles, starting from military surveillance to urban planning, Disaster management to Agricultural Assessing, creating Digital 3 D maps to track diseases outbreak and control them.

GIS has an immense responsibility to transform the Agricultural scenario mainly the horticultural sector, into a potent resource of foreign exchange and millions of happy faces. Adopting GIS as an effecting tool of supply chain management will add more value to Agro Market Logistics.

The Indian Story

In the course of over half a century of planned development in India, there has been an incredible revolution in the Agro sector from the traditional to the contemporary, with millions of farmers enthusiastically participating in new experimentation and Innovation and becoming increasingly cognizant towards science and technology. After attaining independence in 1947, major prominence was laid on achieving self competence in food production. Development of high yielding crop varieties, improving Agro-production technologies and their implementation in areas of assured irrigation cemented the way towards food security ushering in green revolution in the late sixties.

The country has entered the new era of globalisation with utmost confidence in manufacturing by virtue of ecstatic takeovers and emerging as a global leader in services, even as the expectations of farmers have been aroused, but the ground reality remains very grim.

However, gradually it was realized and became clear that horticultural crops for which the Indian topography and agro climates are well suited is actually an ideal Model of achieving sustainability of small Land holdings, increasing employment, improving environment, providing an enormous export potential and above all achieving nutritional security. As a result, due emphasis on diversification to horticultural crops was given only during the last one decade.

The horticulture scenario of the country is rapidly revolutionizing. The production and productivity of horticultural crops have augmented in manifold. Production of fruits and vegetables has tripled in the last 50 years. The productivity has gone up by three times in banana and by 2.5 times in potato. Today horticultural crops cover about 25 per cent of total agricultural exports of the country. The corporate sector is also showing greater interest in horticulture. A major shift in consumption pattern of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables is expected in the coming century. There will be greater technology adoption both in traditional horticultural enterprise as well as in commercial horticulture sectors. Diversification and value addition has become keywords key words in the Indian horticulture in the 21st Century.

The post harvest handling of fruits and vegetables (which includes onion) accounts for 20-30% of losses at different stages of storage, grading, packing, transport and finally at marketing as a fresh produce or in processed.

GIS based Agro-marketing solution

GIS based Agro-marketing is a decision-based support system is being developed specifically to plan marketing strategy. Application is developed on GIS software's like Archinfo, ArcView, etc..

Marketing analysis covers a wide range of topics. Beaumont (1991) notes that conventionally the marketing mix can be summarized as the four Ps: product, price, place and promotion. He suggests that these should be supplemented with a fifth P - that of data processing, which makes it possible to integrate GIS and the marketing mix (Please refer to the figure below). This highlights the central role GIS can play as a tool to integrate the various components of the marketing mix to assist strategic decision making.

Figure: The integration of the marketing mix ('five Ps')
[after Beaumont, 1991, P140]

These illustrations demonstrate the power of GIS in broadening the perspective of marketing and can be easily molded in the perspective of agro-marketing.


GIS offers farmers various important opportunities ie, to boost production, to trim down input costs, and to administer the produce more effectively. From computer mapping in the agro-field to the scientific analysis of production data at the farm level, GIS plays a pivotal role. Following are the examples of GIS applications in agrarian sector;

Data Management

Farmers involved in agricultural production, GIS provide first hand knowledge and insight into how best we can manage a farm's natural resources. In order to take the right decision, farmers need to have the best information, often in the field at the right time.

Creating Data

Through the process of Interpolation, an agriculturist can create data by taking many single points. Such points might include crop yield data collected from a combine harvester, soil samples collected manually throughout a farm, or water quality information collected from watering points or wells. Interpolating these points will produce more useful information for the farmer such as crop yield maps, soil chemistry maps, and maps related to water chemical content (for example the degree of nitrate or arsenic contamination) and so many.


Every impending application of GIS in agriculture is special; however, there are certain fundamental principles attached to it. Agricultural users have to  access data to make important analysis, relating to required agricultural inputs, Agro-techniques, Irrigation techniques, Crop Insurance, Warehousing and Marketing Logistics. Agriculture can be considered a new arena for GIS adoption; however, aerial photographs and satellite images have been used successfully for more than 70 years.


Information compilation in GIS is totally location specific. Geo-referenced data at the farm level will assist in better decision making for enhanced supervision and improved productivity. The important aspect is to judiciously use such information to increase agro-productivity by selecting the right crop for the right fields or by calculating the amount of inputs required for a crop throughout a season. Agriculture is becoming more influenced by business conventions, corporate participations and governmental regulations than ever before. A farmer now has to be more knowledge-driven, adequate knowledge in these areas like farm accounting, agricultural legislation, subsidy guidelines, taxation regulations, and, perhaps most important, crop insurance are immensely important to make such key analysis with the help of GIS.

Maps & Reports

A picture, always worth a thousand words, but an intelligent map provides an analytical approach. GIS provides such privilege of having all of the farm data readily available as a series of maps and analytical reports.

Farm Optimization

Precession Farming is about optimizing agricultural production. A farmer has to strike balance between agro-inputs and crop yields. Huge acceptance of GIS in agriculture has an overwhelming impact in optimizing the process farming, where cost reduction is the ultimate goal.

Support Services

Farm inputs vary from seed, fertilizer, and agrochemicals to machinery parts, and other important services such as crop insurance and Agro-credits. Two more specific applications where GIS can be used successfully to increase operational efficiency while on the other side ensuring the best possible service to the agro-consumers are;

  • Insurance Claim Assessments.
  • Crop risk Assessments.

GIS based Supply Chain Management

If Agro-businesses were to implement GIS, ultimate benefits would be in maximizing the replenishment capabilities. The process would be to calculating current and future demand for a product that requires delivery to a specific location. It can also minimize losses incurred by material being stored for too long at the wrong location. A more efficient distribution network would reduce the life cycle of products, and thus releasing asset investments and faster ROI, improving resource accountability and allocation. It will introduce an enhanced ability to match disposable resources to specific delivery requirements on a particular time and location basis.


One of the biggest problems a farmer confronts is demand uncertainty. And one of the major causes of demand uncertainty is poor communication between members of marketing channels, commonly known as Bullwhip Effect which ca n be only eliminated through GIS applications.

Implementation of the application will result into much easier identification of markets on the targeted segment. Number of route plan with desired options could be worked automatically as well as manually with GIS application within a few minutes. This will foster radical cutback in the time between data processing, planning and implementation, the basic essence of effective supply-chain Management.


Marketing Channels Coughlan, Anderson, Stern & El-Ansary, pg 508

Beaumont, 1991, P140

Pramit Das
Faculty Member - Marketing

Source: E-mail April 30, 2008


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