Sometime in 2015, someone posted a totally thoughtful question on a web Q&A platform Quora: “Is India nevertheless an agricultural kingdom? Why?” The replies from Quora users, even as highlighting the positives and negatives of the rural sector, were a resounding “sure”.
There’s no arguing that India is certainly nevertheless an agricultural kingdom. The agricultural and allied region is the primary of the 3 pillars of India’s $2-3 Tn financial system, the opposite being industry and offerings. However, in 2014, the arena contributed an insignificant 17-18% of India’s GDP, whereas the enterprise and offerings sectors contributed 24.2% and fifty seven.Nine%, respectively.
Despite the truth that India is broadly speaking agriculture driven, one-fifth of the Indian families typically engaged in farming live beneath the poverty line. Experts worry that weather change will in addition impact their productivity, with the incomes of farmers set to be reduced by means of some other 25%. Meanwhile, spiraling debt burden — farmers’ inability to pay off loans because of low productiveness, because of environmental and different information — is driving a massive number of farmers within the usa toward suicide.
While the authorities has attempted waving farmers’ loans, even multiplied minimal selling rate (MSP) on rabi and kharif vegetation, the latter has been credited for reducing farmer’s woes to a point, however is yet to have a considerable effect.
The burning question is: How can India growth its farmers’ productiveness and incomes and decrease their price of production, thereby enabling higher lives for them?
Ruchit G Garg, founder of Silicon Valley-primarily based agritech startup Harvesting Inc, believes data and communique thru era are the solution to resolving farmers’ woes.
“If we are able to bridge the statistics gap by some means, the fundamental every day troubles of farmers can be substantially resolved,” says Garg.
With this goal in mind, the startup has constructed an Agricultural Intelligence Engine in conjunction with three complementary products to provide creditors correct and actual-time records on farmers, their land, and their farming behavior to enable the former to take powerful decisions related to disbursal and follow-up of agri loans.
Harvesting Inc is leveraging system mastering (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to forecast agricultural output and reveal aspects along with flowers cover, water pressure stage, agricultural diseases, etc. This information is then blended with geo-spatial elements (climate, topography), historic monetary statistics, and so on, to attract actionable insights for its clients (creditors).
The Agricultural Intelligence Engine procedures images of farms acquired through remotely sensed satellite imagery after which makes use of generation to distinguish among plants sorts, take a look at whether or not they were watered, gauge how a long way the sphere is from the water source, degree the sphere’s slope and elevation, and even estimates the crop yield, among other agricultural usages.
The startup permits agri-lending institutions — public area banks (PSBs), non-financial institution financial institutions (NBFC), and micro financing establishments (MFIs) — to carry out pre-mortgage activities along with evaluation of credit score threat and submit-mortgage sports inclusive of loan utilisation, series alert extra correctly.
Launched in 2016, Harvesting Inc is presently implementing its agricultural answer in approximately seven-8 nations, along with Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, in partnership with 9 creditors and lending establishments.
In April 2018, the startup launched its operations in India with its headquarters in Bengaluru. It is currently piloting five projects throughout Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Punjab.
How Harvesting Inc Is Bridging The Information Gap Between Farmers And Agri-Lenders
Harvesting Inc’s Trio Of Agri-Lending Solutions
Garg says that extra than an estimated 500 Mn worldwide smallholder farmers want financing worth $450 Bn approximately, yet only three% of the want is being met currently. Financial institutions are not able to deliver sufficient loans and better services to smallholder farmers because they lack get admission to to information referring to agricultural and monetary lives of farmers required for decision making.
Harvesting Inc is bringing win-win solutions for each creditors and small farmers because it reduces the credit score chance of each events. The startup has evolved three complementary merchandise round its Agriculture Intelligence Engine — Credit Risk Scoring System, Farmlands Monitoring System, and Land Records Monitoring System.
The Credit Risk Scoring System permits creditors to evaluate the creditworthiness of farmers approaching them for loans. Garg claims that the technology understands what kind of crop can be grown at the land, what its output can be. It uses far off sensing to monitor fields 24×7, offering actual-time facts on any adjustments taking place on the farm.
Lenders can use the Farmlands Monitoring System to reveal farming hobby after loans are dispensed. Garg explains this with an instance: If a lender has furnished loans to 5K farmers, it might be difficult for it to maintain song of each farmer’s performance. The monitoring device notifies the lender if there may be any alternate in weather occasions, including facts on drought, that can have an effect on the crop boom and production.
Lenders are given get entry to to a dashboard with the datasets of individual farmers and their farms, making it less complicated for them to manage their portfolios.
Garg gives any other example of a exclusive use case of the monitoring device: Let’s say, a farmer has taken a mortgage and has not achieved any hobby at the farm for anything reason for a positive time frame. This is an issue of challenge for the lender. The tracking gadget continues the lender updated on diverse counts — whether the farmer is developing any vegetation, what plants is he/she developing and in which, whether it’s time for harvesting, and many others. The lenders can draw insights from this statistics and plan their loan choice as a result.
“It is the absence of such records, farmers often grow to be taking greater loans from neighborhood mortgage sharks, which once in a while may be as high as 60% interest fee, leaving them in a debt trap,” provides Garg.
Harvesting Inc’s 1/3 product, the Land Records Monitoring System is aimed toward assisting creditors to manage land facts quick and efficaciously by means of reducing the turnaround time to evaluate land documents to just 24 hours.
There is every other trouble the Land Records Monitoring System is solving — that or correct and transparent information on farm mortgages.
Most farmers mortgage their farmlands to get loans. Whenever they achieve this, all of the authorities files about the farm want to be updated. “When we spoke to banks, they told us that during some cases they take in to 2-three years to evaluate such documents,” says Garg.
“We realised that one in all the largest problems in agri-lending is that a few Indian farmers — though now not all — are misusing the device. They mortgage the same farm time and again and in the end declare financial disaster,” he provides.
The modern-day practice of getting loans entails farmers coming near the financial institution with their survey IDs. A financial institution employee is then required to survey the farmer’s land and different belongings bodily. On the idea of the document, the bank takes a choice on whether or not a loans it to be sanctioned.
The startup has created a file management gadget round land information, specially designed for lenders. It obtains information on the farmer’s land from the digital land record device of the Indian government.
“We have written a layer (of era) on pinnacle of the virtual land record machine of the Indian authorities which allows vendors to get notified inside 24 hours of any (farm and mortgage-associated) adjustments which have been up to date in the digital land record device of the Indian authorities.”
“It’s as much as creditors how they want to continue — whether they need to use the scoring gadget or the tracking system or the land record monitoring or all 3. We understand that lending is a important commercial enterprise. They can assess, confirm, and monitor all the information related to the farmer and his/her farm after which make lending choices. We paintings very carefully with the creditors at each step to assist them draw actionable insights,” Garg says.
How Does Harvesting Inc Collect Data For Agri-Lenders?
Initially, while Garg commenced running on the concept of Harvesting Inc, he used excessive-quit sensor drones to capture pictures of farms, but he realised that this technique became now not efficient sufficient to acquire massive quantities of records.
He says, “Although drones are on-call for excessive decision image shooting gadgets, surveying big areas of farmland, say 1 Bn rectangular acres, could require many drones, that is a logistical project. Moreover, the fee of the solution would cross up for our clients (lenders) if we included drones to acquire the images.”
Thereby Harvesting Inc makes use of faraway-sensing technology to accumulate pics. The engine analyses photographs from three number one sources — Landsat satellites geared up with sensors that reply to earth-contemplated sunlight and infrared radiation; Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS),which observes each factor on this planet in 36 discrete spectral bands; and the European Space Agency (ESA) constellations Sentinel 1, which monitors land and ocean, and Sentinel 2, which video display units variability in land surface situations.
Each of these satellites has its very own frequency and backbone. For example, MODIS has a viewing swath width of 2,330 km and perspectives the complete floor of the earth each one or two days. Landsat does it every 16 days, but it captures pictures of the earth’s floor with a decision of 30 metre.
“At Harvesting, we pick out snap shots from these satellites to get the satisfactory loose facts points for analysis. The venture of operating with satellite tv for pc photos is that it's miles complex and requires specialised abilties and excessive performance computing infrastructure,” Garg says.
Harvesting Inc isn't always the only startup combining agriculture with satellite tv for pc imaging technology. In Karnataka’s Chikballapur district-based totally ISRO scientist P P Nageswara Rao has evolved a plant fitness indicator index. He calls it the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) that identifies vulnerable flowers. If a plant (vegetation) has low NDVI, it desires on the spot interest such as fertilisers or insecticides.
Even the significant authorities is presently operating on a mission to make available the contemporary satellite tv for pc pictures and records to discover its numerous usages across sectors. For this, authorities suppose-tank Niti Aayog is said to be collaborating with IIT Delhi to expand a device studying device to analyse and look at remotely sensed photos.
Meanwhile, Harvesting Inc is keeping itself busy enforcing its answers on farms in far flung parts of the us of a and making choice-making in agri-lending easier for lenders. Garg isn't always concerned about debates along with the one on Quora approximately whether or not or not India is an agricultural state. He believes that if solutions which includes theirs can result in wider adoption of generation, they could reimagine the Indian agriculture sector and its productivity, and consequently, farmers’ lives.