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Cropin’s path-breaking approach to accelerating digitalization across the agriculture ecosystem

Agriculture has been the largest and oldest provider of livelihood in India, generating employment for about half the country’s population, either directly or indirectly, in some capacity. Most people share a generic idea about agriculture: farmers use traditional tools to prepare, plant, and harvest from land and connect with other stakeholders to sell produce.

However, for a sector that contributes significantly to the country’s GDP, there isn’t a greater focus on building and adopting technological innovation that can positively maximise outputs with minimal resource usage. This is one of the goals Cropin has been focusing on since 2010.

Cropin is a global SaaS-based agritech pioneer supporting over 7 million farmers across 92 countries to help mitigate risk and improve their productivity. They combine advanced technologies across Cloud, satellite imaging, data science, IoT, remote sensing, machine learning and AI to digitise every farm, and use predictive intelligence to solve complex problems across the agri value chain.

Cropin’s origin

When Cropin was first established, widespread adoption of 2G technology was not yet a reality, according to Rajesh Jalan, CTO and Head of Engineering at Cropin. He states that even then, the founders of Cropin had a passion for finding ways to increase value per acre for farmers and ensure that food was grown in the most sustainable way possible.

What drives the agritech company? Accelerating digitisation in agriculture, shaping a global Ag-intelligence movement and maximizing per acre value for every stakeholder in the agriculture ecosystem by bringing together technology and innovation..

The Cropin solution

According to Rajesh, Cropin’s main objective is to bring the agriculture industry to the same level of digitization as other sectors, such as fintech and edtech. To achieve this, Cropin has developed Cropin Cloud, a specialized cloud platform for agriculture that allows partners and customers to create tailored solutions to meet their specific needs.

Cropin Cloud is designed to help digitize every aspect of the agriculture industry through its platform layers, the first of which includes fully configurable and customizable applications. The suite of applications includes Cropin Grow, a farm digitization and management solution that allows for geotagging of farms, digitization of farmer records, monitoring of crop growth and health, sharing of advisory, and enabling efficient and climate-resilient agriculture. Cropin Connect provides a seamless engagement and enablement solution connecting growers, agribusinesses, and field officers and empowering growers with knowledge and information. Cropin Trace, a simple farm-to-fork food traceability solution, helps agribusinesses eliminate counterfeiting and ensure quality standards.

The second layer of Cropin Cloud is the data hub, consolidating data from various sources, allowing for easier interpretation. The data hub combines satellite, weather, field data, drone data, and images so businesses can access structured and contextualized data from various sources for correlation and analytics at scale. It also includes pre-built advanced data frameworks to solve complex problems such as cloud-free satellite imagery, boundary detection of farm plots, and land use segmentation.

The third is the intelligence layer which provides predicted insights to help farmers make better decisions based on existing data. Cropin’s 22 contextual deep-learning and AI models aid agribusinesses with intelligence around crop detection, crop stage identification, yield estimation, irrigation scheduling, pest and disease prediction, nitrogen uptake, water stress detection, harvest date estimation, and change detection, among others.

We meet our customers where they are in their digital transformation journey, and Cropin Cloud gives them the power of choice to choose the solutions that meet their current and future needs to unlock value for their business., Rajesh added.

Role of technology in scaling

Cropin’s solutions is based on the understanding that each crop is grown and tended to differently. Their globally proven crop-specific and geography-agnostic solutions enable them to understand any crop worldwide. Their transfer learning-based crop detection models ensure that crucial contextual details are generated faster, irrespective of the geolocation.

Agtech solutions must be localised for maximum benefit. We understood early in our journey that localisation has to be pervasive for farmers and field staff to adopt agtech solutions, he said, adding that their solution architecture and design supports customisation, ease-of-use, and configurability to meet localization requirements of their customers and their users.

Rajesh acknowledged that agricultural technology can be complex and said that the cloud has been instrumental in allowing Cropin to build and scale its solutions based on satellite imagery and geospatial data, among other sources. He also noted that the advancements in weather prediction and the availability of accurate weather analysis have greatly helped them.

Rapid mechanization in the agriculture sector has also allowed Cropin to effectively integrate and aggregate data about any task in the field, such as seeding or spraying. According to Rajesh, everything is becoming digital by design, and the cloud has provided Cropin with the scale, flexibility, and agility to keep up with the fast-paced growth of these technologies.

Catering to diverse challenges

Rajesh believes that a multi-cloud approach is inevitable for pervasive solutions. Cropin’s solutions are cloud-agnostic, enabling them to be used on any cloud the customer is located on and most comfortable with. We use many open source technologies which are fundamentally available across all the clouds, he said.

We think of Cropin Cloud as a horizontal solution for agriculture, and we are always looking for configuration and commonalities across all the different solutions, he said, adding that Cropin offers the data hub and intelligence as common layers to customers on which customisation of vertical solutions are made possible.

Rajesh highlighted the importance of a robust and future-proof customisation system to cater to the vast diversity of resources in agriculture and the varied needs of this sector. He shared an example where Cropin works with AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) to support close to 3 million farmers in Africa who have different needs to another use case of a thousand farmers elsewhere.

Cropin has invested in building strong customer success, and support teams to help their customers with change management drive adoption and ensure that their systems are functional offline, even on low-end mobile phones for their users.

Sustainable operations

Cropin identifies that sustainability, regenerative practices and climate change are critical areas that will demand efficient global-scale solutions. They have a weather advisory programmed to support farmers in making timely decisions. The most valuable aspect of Cropin is the intelligence we provide – we can recognize what is happening in a particular plot of farm or farms in a region and then work with agronomists and agri-businesses who have the best knowledge to make right and timely decisions for maximizing productivity or mitigating risk, said Rajesh.

He highlighted that Cropin wants to ensure that farmers can benefit from access to finance and adopting climate-smart agriculture practices. We are working with carbon credit programs where farmers get carbon credits that can be monetized if they follow the prescribed set of practices in their field, he added. He noted that the company acts as a link between big enterprises that want more carbon credit and farmers who don’t have access to carbon credits.

What lies ahead

Cropin continues to lead the way in helping the agriculture sector navigate these early stages of its digitization journey, alongside addressing the diverse challenges and needs of various stakeholders in the sector. Cropin looks forward to connecting and collaborating with other companies to create synergies and maximize the potential benefits of digitization in agriculture with its ecosystem cloud platform, Cropin Cloud.

Our goal is to compute and provide intelligence for at least one-third of the world’s agricultural land in the next 3-4 years while continuing to lead the agtech industry and drive innovation, said Rajesh. He emphasized the importance of the entire agricultural ecosystem coming together to learn from one another, collaborate and achieve the best possible outcomes. If farmers are able to produce double or triple the amount at half the cost, it will benefit everyone, he said.

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