Cropin Launches akṣara: A Micro Language Model (µ-LM) for Climate Smart Agriculture, Targeting Underserved Farmers in the Global South

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Bengaluru, April 16, 2024: Cropin Technology, a global Agtech company enabling intelligent agriculture, today announced the launch of ‘akṣara’, the sector's first purpose-built open-source (Apache 2.0 License and with no restrictions) Micro Language Model (µ-LM) for climate smart agriculture, built on Mistral’s foundation model. ‘Akṣara’ is designed to address the problems faced by the underserved farming communities in the Global South by removing barriers to knowledge, and empowering anyone in the agriculture ecosystem to build frugal and scalable AI solutions for the sector. With the goal of democratizing access to digital technologies and modernizing agriculture for the 21st century, Cropin aims to empower agricultural stakeholders, developers, and researchers to tackle global challenges like food security, climate change, resource conservation - water and soil, regenerative agriculture practices amongst others by providing access to contextual, factual and actionable information. 

The first version of akṣara will cover nine crops viz. paddy, wheat, maize, sorghum, barley, cotton, sugarcane, soybean, and millets for 5 countries in the Indian subcontinent. These food crops collectively account for a substantial portion of the world's food requirements and are the staple food for the population in the global south. Developed by Cropin and hosted on Hugging Face, akṣara is a frugal and scalable µ-LM built and fine-tuned on top of the Mistral-7B-v0.2 model. Recognizing the environmental impact of running large language models (LLMs), Cropin has meticulously compressed ‘akṣara’ into 4-bit from 16-bit by using QLoRA or Quantization and Low-Rank Adapters (LoRA). The model seems to be more relevant than GPT-4 Turbo by almost 40% on randomly selected test dataset as measured by the ROUGE or the Recall-Oriented Understudy for Gisting Evaluation scoring algorithm. The model ensures that the responses are factually relevant and brief while minimizing the compute and storage resource requirement.

It was fine-tuned with more than 5,000 high-quality question-response pairs specific to agriculture and more than 160k tokens in the context. These numbers are expected to increase as we add more crops, geographic locations and use cases. To ensure that the model remains faithful to the question, it is grounded by using techniques like RAG or Retrieval Augmented Generation by cross referencing an authoritative subject matter experts' knowledge base.

In today's complex agricultural landscape, farmers and others involved in agriculture are struggling to meet the world’s increasing demand for sufficient, safe and nutritious food. This challenge is especially critical in the Global South. Farmers in this region are increasingly vulnerable to changing weather conditions. Climate change is disrupting conventional agricultural practices, making existing knowledge impractical in the era of global warming. Factors like irregular or extreme rainfall, unpredictable heatwaves, and increased pest and disease attacks affect farmers' practices and reduce agricultural yield, productivity, and profitability. Cropin aims to bridge this gap with akṣara by harnessing the power of GenAI to provide insights into modern farming practices, accurate information, and farm advisories. For example, it can suggest which inputs to use for crops like rice or maize under specific agro-climatic conditions or thousands of climate smart agri advisories and other topics. 

This initiative also demonstrates Cropin's commitment to sharing knowledge, and ethical and responsible use of AI for agriculture. The Cropin Al team used Google's People + AI Guidebook and discussions with Google's Responsible AI team to help guide the model's design process. The aim was to ensure the model's alignment with key responsible AI principles, reduce biases, promote the use of AI for sustainable agricultural practices (practices involving biological controls, soil conservation, water conservation, companion planting, preserving beneficial plants and insects), and ensure the equitable distribution of benefits across farming communities in the Global South. 

This open-source initiative aims to support agronomists, agri-scientists, field staff, and extension workers and gradually extend the services to farmers in multiple languages, considering the need for local language support. Cropin believes that transforming global food systems requires equipping industry think tanks and researchers with the best decision-making tools and information. This knowledge should then be disseminated at the grassroots level. 

AI has the potential to transform agriculture, but challenges like access to large-scale structured data, expertise, and storage/compute infrastructure limit its adoption. Open-source projects like akṣara are crucial for wider AI use and speeding up innovation. With akṣara, Cropin is reaffirming its leadership in AI for food systems. The company started AI innovations in agriculture five years ago when many didn't even imagine AI applications in farming. During this journey, Cropin announced its intent to build intelligence on every acre of the world's cultivable lands. This effort was followed by developing an AI-powered Food Security Decision Intelligence solution in partnership with AWS. Cropin is also looking to collaborate with industry players and academia to accelerate its vision of a more digitally empowered, data and AI-driven agriculture landscape worldwide. akṣara is a significant step in this journey.

Out of the world's 600 million farms, five out of six are small, covering less than two hectares each. Despite operating on only about 12 percent of agricultural land, these small farms produce roughly 35 percent of the world's food. The goal is to enable AI investments to have a significant impact and to make AI accessible to everyone in the ecosystem, including academia, development agencies, governments, and agricultural enterprises, to empower farmers worldwide, beginning with the smallholders in the global south.

Speaking on the announcement, Krishna Kumar, Founder & CEO, Cropin said, "In an era where Large Language Models are reshaping jobs, businesses, and customer interactions, the spotlight is now on industry-specific models trained on niche and comprehensive domain data as the 'next big thing.' These models can potentially transform agriculture, paving the way for a new era of tech-driven farming in a sector that has traditionally seen limited technological advancement. Domain-specific AI models for agriculture are expected to attract significant investments, offering a practical and economically viable approach to food systems transformation. akṣara reinstates our commitment to leading the tech-driven agricultural movement in the years ahead, significantly impacting small-scale farmers' lives."




About Cropin
Founded in 2010, Cropin is a global Agtech leader. Cropin Cloud, the world’s first industry cloud for agriculture, empowers stakeholders to make informed decisions that enhance farming efficiency, productivity, and sustainability through digital technologies and predictive intelligence. Cropin is not merely a participant in the 'Ag-intelligence' movement; we are spearheading it through strategic partnerships with over 250 B2B customers. Cropin has digitized 30 million acres of farmlands, and positively impacted over 7 million farmers worldwide. Our crop knowledge graph, spanning 500 crops and 10,000 varieties in 103 countries, powers the Cropin Cloud in providing predictive intelligence for over 200 million acres of farmland globally. Cropin is at the forefront of uniting agribusinesses, development agencies, international organizations, and governments in leveraging Agtech systems to transform global food systems and attain climate goals.


For more information, contact:

Dileep M, +91 98863 69634,