Agriculture tech

[DeepTech Innovator] Inside CropIn: What goes into providing insights for Indian agri businesses

CropIn is an intuitive, intelligent, self-evolving system that delivers future-ready farming solutions to the entire agricultural sector. It delivers decision-making tools that bring consistency, dependability and sustainability to agri-businesses.

With capabilities of live reporting, analysis, interpretation and insight that span across geographies, it claims to digitize every farm, while data-managing the entire ecosystem. CropIn’s smarter agri solutions are powered in real-time; to archive patterns, predict trends, to make a blueprint for your business in the times to come.

The Co founder and COO, Kunal Prasad discusses how the SaaS-based service is of use to agri businesses in India, DeepTech influences in the solution and challenges to navigate in the ecosystem

Edited excerpts:

How is the SaaS-based service of use to agri businesses in India?

CropIn is a Farm Management-Monitoring-Traceability (agriculture data and analytics) business solution provider based in Bangalore, India. CropIn provides SaaS-based service to agri businesses in India and abroad, enabling partners to analyze, interpret and gain real-time insight on crops and farms, to be able to take corrective measures on time

We have also introduced a data and agronomy management platform, SmartFarm and machine learning-based predictive analytics platform, SmartRisk. SmartWare, AcreSquare & PlotRisk are some of the other solutions and applications that we are providing.

SmartFarm: The mobile and web-based flagship application helps users manage farm operations from planning to harvesting (at each stage). The ground data along with remote sensing capabilities of the application helps predict crop health and derives a score for each plot by predicting yield per acre of the plantation. The agronomy module powered by advanced weather analytics helps users take preventive measures to avoid crop issues by managing crop stress and collate advisory to create a knowledge management database and makes agronomy efficient. SmartFarm lays the foundation of farm to fork traceability since it has continuous geo-referenced data frames in the entire lifecycle of the crop.

SmartWare: An application that helps to manage entire packhouse operations of agribusinesses starting from inventory management, order management, GS1 compliant label printing till dispatching the order thereby extending the SmartFarm and enabling users to provide farm to fork traceability. SmartWare identifies the right products from the packhouse/inventory as per the customer preferences of size, colour, MRL levels, etc. to achieve shipment of zero defects products. The QR Code / Barcode on the product when scanned gives detailed information from the sowing of the crop till it reaches the customer’s hands. Most importantly, SmartWare completes the farm to fork traceability, when used along with SmartFarm.

SmartRisk: An advanced analytics platform having a strong backend of big data, machine learning, AI, and remote sensing to create farmer and plot rating and risk index. This helps Input companies, Banks, and NBFC companies to identify viable opportunities for their business.

What has been CropIn’s contribution to the Climate-Smart project funded by the World Bank?

CropIn has successfully completed a Climate-Smart project (SLACC) funded by the World Bank in Bihar and MP from 2017 – 2020. The project has brought productivity improvement of upto 32% over a 3 year period for over 16,000 Smallholder farmers in climate stressed districts Gaya, Madhubani ( Bihar), Sehore and Mandla (MP).

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 climate change in the medium to long term is one of the biggest challenges faced by Indian farmers today. Large-scale pilots were 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 Missions in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh with CropIn. CropIn has developed digital applications to advise farmers on ways to achieve optimal harvests, depending on weather conditions, soil, and other indicators.

CropIn has also developed a climate-smart advisory module that develops season-wise crop configurations for all the major crops and provides weather-based advisory to SLACC farmers in the local Hindi language on predictive and curative measures promoting sustainable agriculture practices. 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, the recommendation for harvesting fertilizer, and seven-day weather forecasts derived from the best available weather observations 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.

Upto 45-55% of small holder farmers were experiencing low productivity due to increased disease infestation & declining water table. We were looking to create self-reliant agriculture through adaptive strategies.

There was the need for bringing technology for climate resilience to the doorsteps of India’s smallholder farmers, which is where CropIn has stepped in and provided the following solutions:

  • Climate smart advisory module develops season-wise crop configurations for all the major crops
  • CropIn helped in scheduling and monitoring farm activities to implement complete traceability
  • Seven-day weather forecasts derived from the best available weather observation systems and forecast models.
  • CropIn helped educate farmers on adoption of right package of practices and inputs
  • Weather-based advisory to SLACC farmers in the local language
  • CropIn helped devise systems for monitoring crop health and harvest estimation
  • Web and mobile-based advisory dashboards to enable the Village Resource Professionals get important insights

What is the competitive advantage you have?

CropIn has a global presence in 52+ countries, spanning across different stakeholders in the agro-ecosystem, from banks to insurance, agribusinesses to NGOs, food processors to equipment manufacturers. The solutions are crop and location-agnostic, which make them highly scalable, customisable and integrable to varied implementations.

CropIn’s solutions are powered by proprietary algorithms built on ground data, satellite imagery and weather data, which are used to provide insights at the farm and regional level. The results are hence accurate, reliable, and highly precise in predictability. CropIn’s roadmap is defined to offer full-stack AgTech solutions to the entire agri-ecosystem. CropIn has consistently maintained a track record of carrying out the fastest and most successful technology implementations in the AgTech space on a global scale.

SmartRisk’s AI capabilities and predictive analytics are based on the 0.3 trillion datasets that CropIn has garnered over the last decade, compiled over different geographies. SmartRisk uses a consultative approach to help its client partners that will effectively drive their initiatives around digitization, compliance, sustainability and traceability.

What are the challenges associated with the ecosystem you work in and how do you navigate those?

Showcasing the value of this segment (AgTech) to an audience who have been into following traditional agricultural practices and less adoption of technology are the major challenges faced. However, with the digital transformation happening and increased access to affordable infrastructure (Mobile and Internet) space is changing fast and the opportunities are opening up. There are 2 major challenges that we have encountered so far:

Adaptability: The majority of Agri enterprises such as Agrochemical, Organic, Contractual farming, Input Seeds have been working with old book-keeping practices. Though tedious, any drastic change towards digitization is viewed with scepticism, especially with their field team, who believe that with the use of the application, they are being merely tracked and their performance is being evaluated, ignoring the bigger picture. CropIn ensures it educates this customer base during our implementation to show them the value of the product. Organizations started incentivizing the usage of SmartFarm, thereby increasing the adoption.

Mobility and Literacy: With current limitations in penetration of broadband / mobile communication and rural literacy, our reach of expansion in working directly with the farmer gets limited. To effectively counter this, we built applications that capture data offline and can be customized into regional languages.

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