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Enabling digital transformation in agriculture

Krishna Kumar


Digitalisation in agriculture is not just the future, but the present reality of global agriculture. Digital technologies have been a major potential booster to the world of agriculture. CropIn’s digital solutions are helping farmers in skill-building and making them future-ready.


Smart Farm actively engages farmers by sending them advisories about best practices

Information and Communication Technologies or simply known as ICTs are revolutionizing agriculture and contributing towards shaping a better future for farmers by creating a positive impact towards increasing their livelihoods. ICTs help in empowering the rural community by providing better access to technology, natural resources, improved agricultural technologies, effective production strategies, market access and much more through the power of modern technology.

In 2010, when the agrarian crisis was looming large on the rural areas of Karnataka where local farmers were facing a gamut of problems ranging from non-availability of finance, climatic vagaries, soil degradation, pest infestation and diseases, operational inefficiencies, and no predictability of yield, Mr. Krishna Kumar wanted to do his bit to prevent farmers’ suicides and avert the agrarian crisis. He left his high rising career at GE and set up CropIn Technology Solutions- an agriculture technology solutions start-up that would address several pain points of millions of farmers across the country.

CropIn started with a vision to maximize per acre value by harnessing technology, works towards the proliferation of digital technology and data analytics that can contribute to bettering the lives of farmers and agriculture service providers in the agriculture ecosystem for the best.CropIn caters not just to one industry vertical but to many segments. The product offered to each segment varies according to the requirement and the geography involved. CropIn’s product suite enables data-driven farming by connecting all the stakeholders in the Ag-ecosystem. The unique and innovative products offered by CropIn are purely B2B providing solutions for agribusinesses at different levels of the ecosystem. Our focused segments areFarming and Processing Companies; Aggregators, Exporters, Food Retailers & Traders; Agri Input Companies, which include farm machinery, seed sales, fertilizer, nutrients, pesticides etc.,;Banking and Financial Institutions; Crop Insurance Providers; Development Agencies, NGOs and government bodies; Farmers- addressed through agribusinesses.

Developing resilience in agriculture to regular weather shocks in the short-term and to climate change in the medium to long-term is one of the biggest challenges facing Indian farmers today.

The ICT’s that CropIn Technology Solutions has developed over the past decade has brought in a radical change in the agriculture sector and the results have reflected on the development it has aimed to bring in for the farmers globally.

Success stories

CropIn has been a pioneer in leading the AgTech sector not just as a technological visionary but also as a socio economic impactor through its collaborations with development agencies and organisations.

a) The Tata CInI Project

 CropIn partnered with the Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI), a philanthropic organization established by Tata Trusts in an endeavour to uplift the lives of Central India’s tribal households through their Central India Initiative. In April 2015, CInI launched its ambitious ‘Mission 2020: LakhpatiKisan – Smart Villages’ program, with an aim to bring about 101,000 households irreversibly out of poverty with increased quality of life and life choices and to develop 17 blocks as regional drivers for growth across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, and Odisha.

Each of the 101,000 households is envisaged to earn $1590 per annum or more, compared with the baseline average yearly earnings of $530. Currently, the program impacts over 70,000 households, bringing them in the ambit of institutional structures for driving change.

To achieve goals that are inclined more towards capacity building of the farmers, CInI is primarily leveraging CropIn’s SmartFarm solution to achieve the same. The field staff engage with the farmer on a day-to-day basis and collect critical farm data using SmartFarm’s easy-to-use modules. This data is stored in CropIn’s centralized cloud platform and is readily available to other key stakeholders in the project for effective decision-making.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The collaboration with CropIn now enables CInI to leverage SmartFarm to intervene at every stage of the crop lifecycle and improve the livelihoods of over 4,300 farmers across Godabanda and Dhalbhumgarh regions in Jharkhand. CropIn’s engagement with CInIdigitised 3,400+ plots and built accurate farmer and farm profiles through proper channelisation and digitisation of data.

SmartFarm then actively engages farmers by sending them advisories about the best practices, such as the appropriate usage of chemical inputs to help them optimise their production. The application also helps monitor the field staff who engage with the farmer on a day-to-day basis, and collect critical farm data using SmartFarm’s easy-to-use modules. This data is stored in CropIn’s centralised cloud platform and is readily available to key stakeholders actively involved in the project for effective and timely decision-making. Lastly, SmartFarm helps analyse productivity and estimate yield, thereby allowing CInI to measure the impact of the interventions and improve outcomes going forward.

CropIn believes in technology combined with data to be a driving force towards building resilient agricultural communities and a key factor in improving nutrition, economic growth, sustainability and productivity globally. Good agricultural practices are extremely essential in achieving this goal and CropIn was successful in helping farmers adopt these practices and be future-ready for climatic unpredictability in the Jeevika Project.

b) Jeevika – The SLACC Project

 The Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change (SLACC) Project for India is in association with the Government of India’s National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) and is supported by the World Bank. This public-private partnership project brought CropIn on-board as the preferred partner for bringing technology for climate resilience to the doorsteps of Indian farmers. The project aims to empower farmers to adopt climate-resilient practices and adapt to climatic changes and unpredictability.

Developing resilience in agriculture to regular weather shocks in the short-term and to climate change in the medium to long-term is one of the biggest challenges facing Indian farmers today. Large-scale pilots are being implemented in four districts of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh to test the effectiveness of digital apps to generate climate-resilient solutions for farming needs. This was made possible through a public-private partnership between the State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM) in Bihar and MP with CropIn Technology. CropIn has developed digital applications to advise farmers on ways to achieve optimal harvests, depending on weather conditions, soil and other indicators.

In order to effectively track and monitor farmer progress, there needs to be a foolproof mechanism that alerts and informs stakeholders at every level of the agro-ecosystem. CropIn’sSmartFarm is a state-of-the-art farm management solution, the solution enables farmers to capture several parameters through every stage of production and monitor them systematically to increase productivity at every stage of production.

CropIn Technology has developed a climate-smart advisory module that develops season-wise crop configurations for all the major crops and provides a weather-based advisory to SLACC farmers in the local Hindi language on predictive and curative measures promoting sustainable agriculture practices. Tracking farming activities has never been easier, with better end-to-end visibility and an easy to use mobile application, farm extension workers can maintain better efficiency, transparency and alert stakeholders in the case of pest infestation or disease.

Web and mobile-based advisory dashboards have been developed to enable the Village Resource Professionals to get important insights around sowing, soil health, seed treatment, fertilizer application, and seven-day weather forecasts derived from the best available weather observation systems and forecast models. This data is then downscaled at the farm plot level to help smallholder farmers make effective decisions for their crops. The module also considers technical inputs in real-time from agriculture experts in state research institutions and farm alerts from village resource professionals to develop these practical agro-advisories.

After leveraging the technology provided by CropIn, a village resource professional was able to raise a number of alerts in Bihar and received advisories on sowing, soil health, seed treatment, and weather forecasts that benefited farmers. Over time, he developed skills to interpret technical advisories, train farmers to apply information on their fields, and interact with CropIn professionals, which earned him the status of a master trainer.

Box 1: CropIn digital solutions

SmartFarm: An award-winning farm management solution which enables complete digitization of farms, empowers data-driven decision-making, provides complete visibility of people, processes and field performance, along with the capability to trace and predict the output. It ensures management of a standard package of practices, adherence to compliance and certification, pest and crop health management.

SmartRisk: An agri-business intelligence solution that leverages agri-alternate data and provides risk mitigation and forecasting for effective credit risk assessment and loan recovery assistance. Proprietary machine learning algorithms built on satellite and weather data is used to give insights at plot and region level.

mWarehouse: A comprehensive solution for packhouse, processing and export companies that enables farm-to-fork traceability and compliance, quality control and flexible inventory management.

SmartSales: A comprehensive CRM and input channel management solution, that helps predict and improve sales and ensures end-to-end performance management of the sales team.

AcreSquare: A unique farmer application that helps companies interact directly with their farmers, share content, educate them and provide consultation, thus enabling companies to extend the power of technology to their farmers and cultivate farmer loyalty.

Challenges

Promoting digital solutions has its share of challenges too. The first is adaptability, specifically in India, because a majority of Agri enterprises who have already been working with conventional practices view any drastic change towards digitization with scepticism. Also, the common misconception that the use of the application is only to track them and evaluate their performance only adds to the challenge and distracts them from the bigger picture.

The second is mobility and literacy. Though mobile communication and broadband connectivity are at its best yet, there are limitations in its penetration of broadband in rural areas, and there is much to improve with regards to rural literacy. Technology keeps on changing and we as a company need to be on the top of it. To stay updated with the latest advancement in technology is a time-sensitive and cost-intensive process.

These challenges subsequently affect Agtech companies’ reach of expansion in working directly with the farmers. CropIn has been proactively addressing the above issues, which has enabled us to tackle the barriers better than ever before.

Impact

Farmers are now more tech-friendly and digitalisation of agriculture has broadened their perspective. After witnessing the exponential increase in yield and efficiency on their farms, they understand the advantages of bringing in a technological intervention into their farmland and have reaped the benefits of doing the same. CropIn has so far impacted the lives of 2.1 million farmers and digitized over 6.1 million acres of farmland across 52+ countries. CropIn’s solutions can identify over 9,400+ crop varieties while working on more than 388 crops.

CropIn’s solutions act as knowledge repositories for the farmers to have ready-made actionable insights on their farmland and to address unforeseen vagaries due to climate and pest attacks. This helps in skill-building and makes the farmer future-ready. The field agents also educate farmers on how to utilise the power of technology on their farmlands through manual training.

Digitalisation in agriculture is not just the future, but the present reality of global agriculture. Digital technologies have been a major potential booster to the world of agriculture. The impact of digitalisation in farming has brought in wonders and scaled up benchmarks for farmers in terms of food production and positively impacted their livelihoods. Digital agriculture means smarter, data-driven decision making, richer yields, high quality produce through a reliable, accurate and a sustainable system that harnesses modern technology towards crafting a better tomorrow.

 

Krishna Kumar

CEO and Founder, CropIn.

3rd Floor, 1021, 16th Main Rd, Tavarekere,

Aicobo Nagar, 1st Stage, BTM Layout 1,

Bengaluru, Karnataka 560029