Farmers may find respite in this data driven solution start-up. Attracts huge funding including Uber.
We all know that agriculture is the backbone of our country. Without farmers’ efforts, we wouldn't be able to get food on our plates. Be it the first citizen of the nation or the one struggling below the poverty line, everyone gets to eat only if farmers sweat in fields. Unfortunately, the plight of farmers is never understood, recognized and enhanced. Technology blooms every day, new inventions keep pouring in but no new technology favours the food givers. But days have changed. The youngsters of today are thinking of the farmers and their welfare. Two graduates from IIT Madras have thought about it all while working in the lab. Let's see what they have done that have brought smiles on to the farmers' lips.
The College Lab That Made a Difference:
The lab in IIT Madras is the place where students enthusiastically build products and eagerly wish to offer some of the best gifts to the community. Sai Gole and Siddharth Dialani are two students who spent their quality time in the lab but not to design "sophisticated" products to submit to the competitions. They wanted to "create" something that addresses and wipes out the real-time problems.
An Idea That Germinated Out Of Experience:
Gole hails from a family with an agricultural background and they have been into agriculture for more than 30 years. Thus Gole is much familiar with the problems associated with agriculture. On the other hand, Siddharth read that Agriculture sector is lacking innovation. In 2015, after he cleared his CAT exam, during the period of applying for the Food & Agriculture Business Management course, an idea developed in his mind. He thought of building a tech-enabled process that facilities better agricultural outcomes. Thus the duo decided to address these problems using their technical knowledge. To gain a better understanding of the process and to dig deeper into the problems, close monitoring of the agricultural processes is a must. Thus both of them started spending weekends with farmers.
For almost a year after their graduation, the duo stayed on a five-acre farm in Pune to experience the impediments faced by farmers. They realized that Indian farmers earn very less because of the lack of accessibility of scientific knowledge. "They needed a personalized solution.”, says Siddharth.
Having gained two years of root-level experience and under the constant mentorship of the International Crop Research Institute of Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) scientists, they successfully built the framework for LeanAgri.
The Launch of LeanAgri:
The duo incubated LeanAgri in Pune in the year 2017. LeanAgri which was later named as BharatAgri provides a systematic solution and consultancy calendar to the farmers. BharatAgri has an algorithm that works based on the data collected from the farmers and gives them vital inputs and suggestions on what crop should the farmers grow, how and when to water the crop, best times to provide the fertilizer in order to maximize the production. BharatAgri develops data-driven solutions to facilitate action planning for farmers and enterprises working with farmers. With the main aim to wipe out the food security problems and to create friendly soil conditions for the upcoming generations to farm and produce, BharatAgri works with sheer determination. While Siddharth heads the Execution and Agronomy section, Sai is responsible for Business Development. BharatAgri also launched its mobile application in five languages. It has over 1 lakh users apart from 25,000 paid farmers.
Seriously Working Towards Its Vision:
BharatAgri that has won the UberPITCH competition in March 2017 after which Uber invested (₹35 lakh) in the startup, has now raised ₹4.5 crores from various investors.
The company has been taking vital steps towards the welfare of farmers and its prime focus is on research and development in order to enhance the agricultural processes.
The main services offered by LeanAgri are:
LeanNutri helps the farmers in decision-making and season-long personalized planning aiming at three key factors: Nutrient Management, Pest and Disease Management, and Irrigation Management. Data pertaining to soil, water and topography are collected on-farm and later, the farmers receive season-long farming activities based on the collected data through SMS, pre-recorded calls and mobile application. Lean enterprise is a farmer management that derived data analytics platform for enterprises connected with multiple farmers for forwarding or backward value chain.
Milestones Crossed By BharatAgro:
With combined efforts, LeanAgri could bag funding of 50K Dollars from Travis Kalanick (Founder and former CEO of Uber). In addition, the LeanAgri team also got the opportunity to go to San Francisco to meet the top Uber executives and other venture capitalists. The team secured the Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) 2018 Award and received a grant of 50,00,000 INR. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India for further Research & Development gave this funding to the team. LeanAgri is officially associated with ICRISAT, Hyderabad.
The team conducts on-field research trials in association with ICRISAT to validate the techniques and products developed by the LeanAgri team. In addition, ICRISAT offers agronomy support such as crop growth data and nutrient analysis to the team. Other Government institutions like Directorate of Onion & Garlic Research (DOGR) and Indian Institute of Spice Research (IISR) also support the team invalidation trials. For their outstanding contribution to the agricultural sector in India and for their considerable achievements, Sai Gole and Siddharth Dialani were listed in Forbes 30 under 30 this year.
An Advice To The Budding Agri Innovators:
Gole and Siddharth suggest that those who are willing to develop solutions to the problems faced by the farmers should have patience and consistency in putting the efforts. Agricultural sector requires one to wait for the results after giving in the efforts. The duo advises the beginners that they should be determined towards problem-solving and that they should be on par with the technological advancements. The young innovators should focus on developing solutions and services that benefit the farmers without causing much hassle to them while using the products and services.
The aim of LeanAgri is to serve at least 10% of India's total agriculture. The team is working to add multiple modules to its services list and is also adding some additional features to the existing ones every quarter. The upcoming projects of LeanAgri are-
LeanProtect and LeanEquip. LeanProtect is about preventive pest and disease prediction while LeanEquip deals with end-to-end supply chain management.
We wish this duo reach great heights and with their inspiration may many young come forward to spend their technological assets in enhancing the face of Indian agriculture.
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