In recent times, farming for a common person has become synonymous with unpredictability. Changing weather patterns, fluctuating markets, and ever intimidating genetic engineering techniques are pushing farmers to abandon farming for other financially lucrative occupations. Artificial intelligence, though in its nascent stage with respect to agricultural applications, holds immense potential to completely transform this picture into a sustainable yet profitable vocation for many small farmers. Samhitha Crop Care Clinics (Samhitha), is a precision advisory platform, that helps farmers with smooth farm logistics by leveraging farm and crop-specific databases and analytics to ensure optimum productivity. Analytics Insight has engaged in an exclusive interview with Kalyan Enjamoori, CTO, Samhitha Crop Care Clinics.
1. Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization, and the services that your company offers.
Samhitha Crop Care Clinics (Samhitha) provides precision farming advisory to farmers. We are a team of Plant doctors, Soil Scientists & Technology experts. Our services include Soil & Water Testing, Drone survey, Tree tagging & Tree level advisory to farmers every 15 days. We deploy telemetry devices with Soil Moisture sensors and weather stations to get localized ground truth and aerial data.
2. With what mission and objectives, the company was set up? In short, tell us about your journey since the inception of the company?
Profitability and Crop Longevity are two major problems of Horticulture Farmers in India. By providing advisory services to Citrus farmers, Samhitha plans to:
- Double the average Citrus tree age from 12 years to 24 years
- Decrease Cost of Cultivation by 30%
- Double the Crop Yield
- Increase A-grade fruit by 25%
We incorporated Samhitha in Feb 2021. And since have onboarded ~5,000 acres of Citrus fields making up 800+ farmers in Telangana.
In November 2021, Samhitha raised $1.5 million in a seed round led by TechStar Group and took part by Quadrant Resource and angel investors.
3. Brief us about the proactive Founder/CEO of the company and his/her contributions to the company and the industry.
Dr. Shyam Sundar Reddy (CEO) spearheads Samhitha with extensive experience in Field Diagnostics, Plant Protection, and Agricultural Marketing. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, he contributes immensely to the operations and expansion of the company.
Shyam’s strong leadership skills and agricultural expertise have helped Samhitha provide precision farming advisory to the farmers and reach 800+ farmers in Telangana within the first year of its inception.
Shyam also holds a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology and has been a Senior Scientist & Head at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Before the inception of Samhitha, he worked extensively at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, and has published over 20 publications.
4. Kindly mention some of the major challenges the company has faced till now.
Traditionally, institutions, cooperative societies, input companies, and NGOs have provided advisory services to small and marginal farmers free of cost. But accountability and follow-through have been major challenges for these mediums. As Samhitha provides comprehensive paid agronomy services, there was reluctance from farmers to associate with us. But by educating the farmers about our services, and the benefits of precision farming, we are now onboarding 200 farmers every month.
5. What is your biggest USP that diﬀerentiates the company from competitors?
A combination of regular crop advisory by crop experts and the accessibility of the latest technology at an affordable price puts us apart from our competitors. Adding to this, our unique offering Digital Tree Health Audit (DTHA) uses a combination of drones and AI-based Mobile apps to identify 52 different citrus problems of each tree. This enables us to deliver advice at the tree level every 15 days.
6. What are the key trends driving the growth in Big Data analysis/AI/Machine Learning?
Although Big Data and AI/ML are new concepts in the Agricultural sector compared to other Industrial sectors, organizations like Samhitha are playing a key role in bringing these technologies to mainstream agriculture.
Current smart farming and precision agriculture systems produce and rely on vast amounts of data to draw insights and make decisions. Big Data systems play a crucial role in processing this data, which is usually found in disparate formats, such as text, binary, images & videos.
Big Data and Machine Learning algorithms are now being extensively used for precision agriculture, weather forecasting, disease identification, smart irrigation, and fertilizer management. The impact of these techniques has resulted in better decision support systems, improved crop production, and a reduction in water usage, pesticides, and fertilizers.
High Mobile Penetration and Low Data Cost have also played a crucial role in the consumption of cloud-based digital services by farmers. 80% of Samhitha’s Farmers are Smartphone users. Supply chain disruptions and e-Learning adoption during Covid have also contributed to the high acceptance of new-age digital services.
7. How do you see the company and the industry in the future ahead?
Marketing & Inputs play a significant role in determining a farmer’s savings, profitability, and crop longevity. Pre-determined farm gate prices, highly volatile Mandi prices, and soaring logistics costs may not give desirable profit to the farmer. The unavailability of input supplies, such as fertilizers and Pesticides is also a challenge.
Apart from Advisory services, Samhitha is working with connecting Farmer with the Market. We are exploring Market Linkages in the Modern Retail segment & Mandis. We are also in discussions with Companies & Financial institutions for easy availability of Inputs and Credit to the farmers.
8. What does your technology and business roadmap look like for the rest of the year?
In the coming years, Samhitha will continue to drive crop productivity and profitability for the farmers through precision farming and an advisory system. Samhitha’s advisory framework will grow beyond citrus and add more cash crops like pomegranate, banana, and oranges. We are setting up a robust market linkage framework for the farmers to link their produce directly to the demand flowing through fruit markets, Modern retailers, and exporters. We are on target to onboard 10,000 acres by End of 2022.
9. How are disruptive technologies like IoT/Big Data analytics/AI/Machine Learning/Cloud Computing impacting today’s innovation?
Today, the maturity of these technologies has significantly improved the ease of farming. Soil moisture sensors and IoT-based irrigation systems are helping farmers do intermittent irrigation even during odd hours. Drones help identify stress and apply pesticides to specific areas in the field. Robots are a boon for labor-intensive jobs such as seed sowing and weed removal. Improvements in Computer vision-based AI algorithms have enabled these devices to work autonomously.
Farm management software & Supply chain visibility combined with blockchain-based traceability systems are also playing a crucial role in providing farm-to-fork visibility to end consumers.
10. How is your company helping customers deliver relevant business outcomes through the adoption of the company’s technology innovations?
At Samhitha, our focus has been on implementing only those technologies that add significant value to the farmer. Soil Moisture based IoT devices help us generate a customized irrigation schedule for each field which helps in conserving the depleting water tables. Tree level advisory has brought down the input costs by over 50% and increased the A-Grade fruit quality by 25%. And the use of telemetry devices and localized weather stations along with the Machine Learning models has helped identify disease outbreaks in advance.
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