Although as ancient as history of humankind, agriculture is a sector that has recorded unhurried transformation through the centuries. Till date, practices on and off the field continue to be highly conventional and involve much human labour, especially in developing countries. In the wake of technology disruption, many farms and agribusinesses are slowly adopting technology into farm operations as it has a considerable impact on productivity and efficiency to say the least. Agriculture technology, or AgriTech/AgTech as it is more popularly referred to, has proven to ease the effort involved in farming and related operations, all the way from farm to fork.
As one of technology’s most prominent offsprings, the Smartphone has established its practicality and versatility in a myriad of sectors, including offbeat and conventional ones such as agriculture. By placing vast expanses of farmlands right on the palm, agricultural apps are revolutionizing the way fields have been tilled and harvested. Furthermore, digitalization of agriculture has enabled not just the farmer, but also stakeholders in various levels of the agri-ecosystem to get the upper hand on the process involved in the food production and supply chain. Agribusinesses and other agricultural entities, both governmental and non-governmental, are turning to various software and hardware digital farming tools such as farm management solutions, Internet of things (IoT), and other forms of precision agriculture.
Modern technology in agriculture is more than just the usage of mobile applications or a hardware system to automate redundant processes and reduce dependency on human labour. Although options are quite limited at present, users of smart farming solutions opt for a UI/UX that is both flexible and extremely convenient to use. This ranks higher on the priority list especially when agribusinesses operate across geographies and employ people with different levels of tech proficiency.
“Does XYZ agri-solution save time and money for my business?”, asks the CEO of an agribusiness. The discussion moves ahead only if the answer is positive, getting into details of what the solution can do for the organization. Businesses that are already accustomed to a system prefer an agricultural solution that can marry and coexist with the existing one, instead of having to replace the one in place and retrain the entire staff. Such a solution thus makes its mark as economically viable and easy to customize.
It was in 2010 when the core team of CropIn came together with the idea to transform Indian agriculture—to make it more productive and profitable for the marginal farmer. By pooling in their expertise and tech capabilities, Krishna Kumar, Kunal Prasad and Chittaranjan Jena designed first of CropIn’s agriculture solutions, ‘SmartFarm’. SmartFarm is a robust and flexible farm management solution that incorporates end-to-end solutions for data-driven decision making for multiple stakeholders in the agri-ecosystem. Its real-time satellite- and weather-based advisory enables accurate output predictability for agribusinesses and other agricultural organizations, while making businesses and farm operations exceedingly efficient. Keeping track of processes involved pre- and post-harvest has never been easier, with SmartFarm’s traceability capabilities powered by smart crop reports & insights for easy reporting on-the-go. By recommending a customised package of practices for each crop, SmartFarm also ensures sustainable farming for a produce that is high is both quality and quantity, by using only the right inputs at the right time. More importantly, SmartFarm’s geo-tagging feature enables accurate measurement of farm acreage, and also helps to log alerts for pest infestation and diseases from the precise location. This not only helps to focus on only the area, but also saves a considerable amount of time otherwise spent on identifying the location and spread of the disease or infestation. CropIn’s SmartFarm also ensures adherence to global standards of Compliance & Certification for hassle-free export of fresh produce to international markets.
The platform has been recognized numerous times on Indian and global platforms for its capabilities, and stands as a clear choice for 185+ clients worldwide. Some of these recognitions include: ‘Best Innovation in Digital Farming Technology’ by Agrow Awards at London, Finalist in the Rabobank Food Loss Asia Challenge at Singapore, and ‘Application Specialist’ at the Dell SME Channels Conclave and Awards, New Delhi.
While the farmer is the core of the entire agricultural operation, numerous other stakeholders are involved in the process of delivering food from farm to fork. To cater to these other influential players in the system, CropIn designed two other applications— SmartWare and SmartSales.
SmartWare is a packhouse solution that brings about digitization of various warehouse processes gives visibility into processes in a warehouse, regardless of itsmagnitude or its physical location. Users can now manage, process and audit the inventory without having to visit the warehouse and manually locate the area or item of concern. In addition to this, one can scan the QR code on processed items in the warehouse to know the movement of the item all the way from the farm, making its entire journey highly traceable. Firstly, farm-to-fork traceability helps with quality control, wherein issues in the food supply chain can be identified much before it can cause irreparable or severe damage. Secondly, it builds trust among consumers of the product when they are aware of the processes that went into bring the produce to their table and can decide for themselves if a product is safe for consumption or not.
On the other hand, SmartSales is a CRM and input management solution that helps to forecast and improve sales and distribution of agri-input products including seeds, agro-chemicals, and farm equipment. The platform provides top-level management with complete visibility of the sales team’s performance at an individual level. Along the lines of distribution of a product, SmartSales assists in inventory management at the level of a distributor or retailer and track the performance of the product.
Intelligent reports helps agribusinesses identify relevant targets based on farm data provided by CropIn’s extensive database, or, alternatively, based on occurance of pests or diseases in a region. This helps the business optimise the positioning of distribution points to achieve better returns on investment. Additionally, the unique platform also provides adequate hard data on a product’s performance in a region to explore unrealised sales with confidence, by identifying its current sales and forecasting the potential demand for upcoming season.
One of the major reasons why agriculture is not as sustainable or productive as expected is that there continues to exist an element of unpredictability. Unexpected changes in climatic conditions around the world lead to numerous problems including droughts, flash floods, storms and a major rise or dip in temperature which can also lead to an incidence of pest infestation or crop diseases. With the increasing difficulty in forecasting the future and preparing in advance for events such as these, farmers and agribusinesses are at a loss.
To monitor and mitigate such risks, CropIn launched its AI- and ML-powered platform ‘SmartRiskTM’ in 2018. It is a predictive and prescriptive solution with capabilities to detect cropping patterns and predict the future of a crop. This forecasting intelligence highlights the associated risk and opportunities for various agri-stakeholders, such as banks and NBFCs, insurance companies, commodity traders, sourcing managers and Government bodies too. These stakeholders can leverage easy-to-use connector APIs to achieve farm-level crop detection and yield prediction and also analyze historical performance of every pixel at farm/postcode/state/country level to monitor risk in real time. SmartRiskTM’s capabilities as a business intelligence solution for effective risk mitigation and forecast was recognized by HDFC Bank’s Digital Innovation Summit towards the end of 2018.