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Cropin, a Bengaluru-based agritech firm, have launched what they claim to be the ‘world’s first cloud for agriculture’. Called Cropin Cloud—it brings together a suite of agriculture digitisation applications, access to ready-to-use data sources, and AI-powered agri-intelligence into an integrated, easy-to-use platform to accelerate digital transformation across the agri-ecosystem.
In a conversation with Analytics India Magazine, Vijay Nelson, Chief Product Officer at Cropin, said that Cropin Cloud is the world’s very first intelligent cloud platform for agriculture.
Further, Vijay discusses how it is going to impact the agricultural sector, farmers, and businesses not only in India, but globally.
AIM: First of all, can you explain to me what Cropin Cloud is? How does it work?
Vijay: The Cropin cloud is the first industry cloud, is a customised solution for the overall agricultural industry. We are the first ones to launch it because you might have heard of a fintech cloud, you might have heard about the retail cloud, but this is the first purpose-built industry cloud for agriculture.
Agritech is complex and needs specialised expertise in multiple areas like GIS, agri-science, AI/ML models, weather data, and IoT, among others. Crops are copiously diversified, and the digital solutions required to monitor them need hyper-tuning.
Cropin Cloud combines the power of a diverse set of advanced technologies, agronomy knowledge, data science and AI. The platform offers a complete set of agriculture-specific capabilities to accelerate business growth and bring about rapid and far-reaching digital transformation in the agri-ecosystem.
Cropin Cloud can be a great enabler in solving agri-ecosystem challenges such as traceability, yield unpredictability, supply chain disruptions, and other agri-food ecosystem challenges.
AIM: Tell us a bit about the scalable agri-stack that Cropin Cloud comprises?
Vijay: Cropin Cloud brings everything together in terms of addressing the needs of agri businesses and farmers. So, today we have applications which enable us to digitise farming management practices. Cropin Apps is the first layer in the Cropin Cloud.
So, we have our primary product which is the SmartFarm Plus that is being used in the field across the globe, where we can actually connect the field and off the field. For example, an agronomist, who defines how to grow a crop, can utilise our solutions in the SmartFarm to define a crop circle—from when the seeds are to be sown, how much fertilisers to use, practices you have to follow, what all you have to monitor and what all you have to evaluate in the field. All these are fed as instructions on the app.
So, larger businesses often hire field agents who work with the farmers. They instruct the farmers on the field by taking data (given by the agronomists) from the app and later take notes in terms of what’s happening on the field. These notes taken by the field agents come back to agronomists. Further, there are other applications through which farmers can directly access the agronomists and seek help with regard to their crop.
The second layer in this is the Cropin Data Hub. It contains not only the data that comes from our applications, it also has data collected from the field through IoT sensors, which can measure temperature on the field, soil moisture and diverse other inputs. We can also get mechanisation information from the machines on the field.
Plus, we also collect information from our satellites. We have ties with four to six satellites, and we take this remote sensing information. So, through our apps we can actually digitise the boundary. Once you know the boundary, we can track the location through satellite imagery which can help provide a lot of intelligence which actually comes into the data hub.
Now, this is complex information and making sense of it is the most important part. So the third layer, which is the Cropin Intelligence, is the most crucial.
There is farmer information that comes in, there are crop inputs that come in, there are inputs from agronomists that come in—we take all of this information, structure it and build relationships, and make sense with the help of AI.
We have about 22 contextual AI/ML models which his been trained on large amount of data over the years. Now, these models help agribusinesses take better decisions in terms of crop detection, yield estimates, irrigation scheduling, and pest and disease prediction, among other things.
AIM: Who can benefit from Cropin Cloud? How can Cropin Cloud help the farmers?
Vijay: Primarily, we work with seed companies, we work with crop protection companies, we work with fertiliser and pesticide companies, we also work with procurement companies and also the government. So the Cropin cloud will cater for digital transformation, traceability and also intelligence across all the segments of customers.
By leveraging Cropin Cloud, customers would be able to make data driven decisions at a reduced cost to help farmers improve their yields, which is one of the biggest challenges in agriculture.
And we work through these customers to help the farmers. We take inputs from the farmers and enable them to grow their crops in a better way. So, we are indirectly connected to the farmers through these businesses.
Without even visiting the field, today we can tell the farmers what the crop is on the field with our AI/ML models. We can tell them at what stage it is growing and also educate them in terms of the health of the products. Further, we can also tell them what the greenness is, the fertilisers it has taken, how much water the crops have taken and we can tell them about soil moisture too.
We can also alert them 7~15 days before a disease impacts a crop based on the conditions so that they can actually do mitigation in terms of pesticides.
We also advise them on weather, based on which they can actually plan their field activities.
You also need ideal conditions for a harvest, for pollination. All of this can actually be provided through remote intelligence And, we actually work seamlessly with the different parties involved. This is where you will actually see on-the-field point solutions across different customers.
And that is why Cropin Cloud is very unique, because it brings everything together.
AIM: You are saying it’s the ‘world’s first purpose-built industry cloud for agriculture’. If that’s the case, why has not anyone managed to develop something similar prior to you?
Vijay: The key here is you need years and years of data at scale. We can do it because we have the scale and the volume of data needed with us which we have collected in the last 12 years. We have crop knowledge of 500+ crops and 10000+ crop varieties. We have around 13 million terabytes of data with us.
AIM: What are some of the challenges for Cropin Cloud to be able to fully help the agricultural sector in India?
Vijay: The farmers need to be taught in terms of the digitalisation journey, and it is a slow journey. We show them the differentiator, we show them the value of it, and then we actually help them try and test it and then they make a decision. So, the transition is usually a challenge for us always.
However, earlier the challenge was customisation in terms of different crops and locations. But now, we have overcome this challenge through years of effort. So, the challenge is mass transition. But even that is changing. Today, there is a need for digitalisation, and most companies have undertaken a digitisation project to transform their operations to improve in terms of intelligence.