Mahindra & Mahindra made waves in the agritech sector with its recent acquisition of AI-based agritech startup Gamaya. This company specialises in providing solutions for crop monitoring using proprietary technology and AI.
Mahindra already has a sizeable footprint in the agriculture industry through its Mahindra Samriddhi, My Agri Guru, EPC and Saboro companies. Through these arms, Mahindra is reaching out to farmers and providing services regarding crop and soil management while providing output procurement businesses.
How does this acquisition fit into their approach? How is this indicative of a bigger move in the Indian agritech ecosystem? Read on to know more.
What Exactly Is Gamaya?
Gamaya is a startup based in Switzerland and was founded in 2015 by Dragos Constantin, Igor Ivanov and Yosef Akhtman. They operate in the precision farming sector and have created technologies and models for diagnosing farmland and crops.
Their tech stack is comprised of a patented 'hyperspectral' imaging camera, drones for imaging and an AI model for deriving insights from data. The hyperspectral imaging camera provides most of the data used for the model and makes 41 measurements across spectrums as opposed to the 5-7 measurements in a normal multispectral camera.
The process begins with a systematic scanning of the crop with the camera, which is set up all over the farmland. After scanning this plant, the data is sent to a model which decodes the data into insights about the plant.
In addition to the imaging data, historical climate and weather records are also considered. Atop this data, the model also applies the crop, variety and region-specific data to analyze the data.
Through this, the model can derive whether the plant is diseased or affected in any way, along with any and all physical traits. This data is analysed to determine nutrient deficiencies, pest and weed infestations and soil requirements. Recommendations are then made for fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide.
Currently, the company offers solutions for sugarcane and soybean. This is set to increase as the company grows.
A Bigger Focus On AI In AgriTech
Agriculture has become a national focus over the past few years in India. Owing to the amount of money the farming sector generates for the country's GDP, the NDA government has made it a priority matter.
There is also a focus to increase technology adoption, yield and water consumption efficiency in the sector. There are also many Indian startups in the space, such as Aibono, Trithi Robotics, SatSure and more.
NITI Aayog, the Indian government's think tank, identified agriculture as one of the main sectors to adapt AI. They also identified various applications, such as herbicide optimization, precision farming, AI sowing, agribots and soil care. This spurred the growth of the agritech industry in the country.
Moreover, the advantage that AI applications give farmers is high, as they have the potential to disrupt the agricultural industry through a variety of factors. Mahindra identified this as their next step, leading to the acquisition of Gamaya.
Mahindra's Master Stroke
As mentioned previously, the company already has a high stake in the farm services industry. Some of their companies include
Samriddhi is Mahindra's most front-and-centre farming supplies company. They not only provide customized farming solutions but also aim to increase the productivity of farmers overall through products.
They offer seeds, crop care products and agriculture advisory services. This allows them to be a one-stop solution for farmers, who have already known the company owing to their presence in the tractor market.
EPC is Mahindra's company focusing on providing micro-irrigation technologies to farmers. As farming in India is largely dependent on rain and other such conditions, it is important to develop micro-irrigation solutions to allow for sustainability.
EPC offers micro-irrigation consultation services to farmers to increase their yield.
Mahindra has also collaborated with farmers for their Saboro brand fruits and dairy products. They act as buyers and distributors in collaboration with over 800 farmers for export and distribution of these products in a retail environment.
With these products and more, in their portfolio, Mahindra already has a very deep grassroots level connect with farmers. They also have a forward-thinking attitude towards AI and machine learning technologies, as seen by their efforts with Tech Mahindra and the like.
The move by Mahindra is not only relevant in the changing agritech landscape of India, but also a valuable addition to their portfolio. They also aim to bring this technology to India, with Rajesh Jejurikar, President, FES – Mahindra & Mahindra, stating on the move, "Our strategic association with Gamaya will enable us to develop and deploy next-generation farming capabilities such as precision agriculture and digital farming technologies."
The company seems set to redefine the agritech landscape in the country.
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