India has now embarked on a journey to bring AI sensors into the fields and agri-tech startup CropData is helping small farmers improve their yields and sell directly to buyers by utilising new-age technologies like Blockchain and AI-enabled Cloud.
CropData has built an e-marketplace, using the capabilities of Microsoft Azure, to empower the farmers in the country.
“Our purpose is to help the smallest farmer in the remotest part of India make a viable living,” Sachin Suri, Managing Director, CropData, said in Microsoft blog post on Wednesday.
The e-marketplace called Agriota connects all stakeholders with a focus on providing utmost transparency with the use of Blockchain.
The solution is helping Indian farmers to sell their produce directly to end buyers in open auctions, in partnership with the UAE’s Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC).
“In our first year, our aim is to have 150,000 farmers on the marketplace and touch five million in the first five years. This, we estimate, will translate into a gross merchandise value of transactions of $250 million in the first year and $8.5 billion in five years,” Suri added.
The company now has a footprint in 30 districts across eight states and over 50,000 farmers on the marketplace.
With its technology, Nagpur-based CropData connects farmers to bulk buyers on its e-marketplace, where their harvest is hedged very early in the crop cycle according to the predicted quality and yield from their farm.
This gives farmers an early visibility into their income and ensures that they have the incentive to put in all the effort that goes into a crop cycle.
“To do that, we’ve created an e-marketplace on Microsoft Azure called Agriota that connects all stakeholders with a focus on providing utmost transparency with the use of Blockchain,” Suri informed.
The end buyers also get visibility with regular updates right up to the time they receive the product.
“We augment that with deep trade analytics like price analysis, reports, and geospatial data. We also provide them with a secondary market option, where they can re-trade and even liquidate their existing positions,” he said.
The startup is working closely with Microsoft’s engineering teams to build products and incorporate some of the AI work that has been done on FarmBeats into its workflows during the diagnostics process.
“Once we onboard a farmer, we perform diagnostics on the farm. This includes crop health assessment with weather correlations, aerial imagery, the kind of seeds that are planted, how they are planted, the stress levels, and much more. We call it Dr Krishi module,” Suri informed.
Once the on-ground diagnostics are done, machine learning (ML) algorithms take over.
“It also helps us club together farms that are similar in terms of their risks, crops, quality, and other health parameters,” Suri said.