Farmer suicides are a problem in the country and the crops are heavily dependent on many factors from climate to soil conditions. To help the farmers, engineers from Bangalore, India decided to start a service called CropIn in the AgTech or Agricultural Technology field. The Logical Indian spoke to the founders about their technology and company. Here are some excerpts.
What is CropIn?
CropIn Technology is a movement which relies on ground level farm data and adds to it the muscle of India’s software strength. These are sustainable in not just improving the lives of Indian (and Global) farmers but also, in making farming productive and lucrative for farmers and all in the ecosystem of Agriculture sector.
Based in Bangalore, India, CropIn Technology is a Farm Management-Monitoring-Traceability business solution provider based. It provides Software as a service subscription (SaaS) based service to Agribusinesses in India and abroad. This helps in enabling partners to analyse, interpret and gain real-time insight on crops and farms, so as to be able to take corrective measures on time by consulting their farmers, increasing crop yield and also ensuring fair pricing to farmers for their produce.
What is the Big Picture?
The big picture at CropIn is all about keeping farmer at the forefront of everything we do and improving the yield, per acre value for all in the value chain.
Can you share with us an example where CropIn has had a result driven approach towards Agriculture?
A reputed agri company based in India had almost 10,000 acres of farm lands, scattered in different geographies. The enterprise had multiple issues with their farm history, soil conditions, unpredictable weather changes such as frost and blight, germination issues, problems with their field team/force effectiveness and most importantly miscommunication among their farmers and duplicate data entry.
The result of CropIn Intervention:
With our existing products and customer service, over 12,000 farmers registered into the system. 20,000 farmer plots geotagged via site visits. The application worked offline and later data synced via GPRS / 2G network. This data downloaded further via excel, assisting the management with timely information in ‘near to real time’ set up.
The enterprise had timely information about their field team. Information on growth stages of crops, direct farmer connects, which helped in taking appropriate decisions and thus benefitting farmer produce, minor miscommunication, early weather warning predictions and above all 92.2% of the package of farm practices followed in time.
Why is data analytics in the agriculture industry is so important?
Agriculture is the biggest playground for Big Data. It has many factors which are ever changing and impact productivity. The data ranges from soil, weather, water, seed, fertilisers, pests, finance, regulation, insurances, etc. which can generate volumes of insights every day. Big data or Data Analytics to us refer to billions of cables (information) available at various touch points in the cycle of practices which a farmer undertakes during a crop cycle, year on year. These cables are raw facts which provide us comprehensive picture once when we churn them into insights via our remote sensing, cloud storage, data mining and algorithms competencies.
Since we offer our platforms to businesses who in turn work with farmers, we strictly adhere to various non-disclosure agreements, so there is no threat to the privacy of farmer’s data. Besides we have implemented best in class technological processes for data security and privacy. Data in transit are encrypted at all layers and critically masked as opted by the customer.
What are the significant changes that are happening at the moment?
Countries and companies are now coming together to adopt technology in building sustainable farming.
- There is an increase in penetration and adoption of mobile / Internet communication in the rural space, which is expected to dominate the growth at par or even better than urban (at over 600 million rural subscribers in India). This brings a monumental change to AgTech enterprises on capturing near real-time information at the ground and conducting various geospatial analytics study regarding farming operations.
- There’s also been an increase in cultivation of organic farming with technology (the State of Sikkim has set an example to the same), where assistance is provided on crop planning and monitoring the growth cycle, plot geo-tagging, pest advisory, interconnecting farmers better with partners in the value chain such as Government, Input seed companies and Pesticide companies to name a few and above all, farm automation.
What is the core product of CropIn Technology?
Four main products of CropIn Technology are as follows:
- SmartFarm: The mobile and web-based application helps users manage their farm operations from planning till harvesting at each stage.
- SmartSales: An intuitive sales effectiveness application which caters to providing the solution for Agrochemical and Input seed enterprises.
- mWarehouse: An application to manage entire packhouse operations of agribusinesses starting from inventory management, order management, GS1 compliant label printing till dispatching the order.
- SmartRisk: An advanced analytics platform having a strong backend of big data, machine learning, AI and remote sensing to create plot rating and risk index. This helps Banks and NBFC companies to identify viable opportunities to work with farmers regarding crop insurance and agricultural loans.
What are some challenges that you faced?
Three main challenges which we faced and were able to build viable solutions to overcome are:
Adaptability: Enterprises in Agrochemical, Organic or Contractual Farming, Input Seeds have been working with old bookkeeping practices. Though tedious any drastic change towards digitisation is viewed with scepticism. Especially with their field team and farmers who have literacy and regional linguistic issues. We spent effort in educating all of them in our implementations to show the value of the product and made the application local.
Mobility & Communication: With current limitations in penetration of broadband and mobile communication, our reach of expansion in working directly with the farmer gets limited. Though India as a country is moving rapidly to bring fast Internet to every remote village but currently with the slow Internet connection we built entirely offline apps which work without internet and syncs the data when there is any basic mobile internet connectivity.
Cost Consciousness: In context to Indian farmers, the current plight is not very good. There has been in fact an increase in the suicide ratio of almost 40% – 50% in the last two years (2014 – 2015), which is extremely unfortunate. The government policies have not been very friendly to them concerning the inability to pay loans, migration to urban living, limited education and exposure to IT, affordability to support their current livelihood and these have posed a challenging question, which will be addressed with time and behavioural change relating to farm data analytics.
At CropIn, what is the next big thing?
In the last six years, CropIn has already connected 5,00,000 farmers to technology, manages over a million acres of farming via digitisation and has solved over 50,000 farm/crop issues via ground level imagery and customer support. Doing these, the company has expanded to over 18 states in India by working with over 70+ enterprises, and 7 Countries across the Globe such as Philippines, Portugal, Nepal to name a few and is poised to expand to 14 new countries and five new states of India, in the 4 – 5 years. Along with this, the CropIn is gearing up for the next Series of funding as it’s heavily investing into its tech team, in-house agronomists and support functions such as relationship professionals.
The next big thing on CropIn’s mind is to connect directly with the Indian farmer, in a way never done before and take our farmer learning global, by being locally and logically Indian.
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