IIT Guwahati students' start-up develops AgSpeak, a multi-lingual Smartphone AI-based Application for farmers to smartly manage their crops and farms

-By KI News Team | Jan. 5, 2021, 5:54 p.m.


GUWAHATI, 15 December 2020: AgSpert, an agri-tech startup, co-founded by the students of IIT Guwahati, and alumni of NIT Silchar and Dibrugarh University, Assam, has developed AgSpeak, a multi-lingual smartphone application for farmers to smartly manage their farms and remotely monitor distress activities. Developed with a goal of optimising the in-farm productivity through Artificial Intelligence (AI), this application will help the farmers in making decisions and managing farm activities by the click of a single button on their smartphone or computer. AgSpeak was launched by Prof. T. G. Sitharam, Director, IIT Guwahati on 13/12/2020 at Guwahati.

 

Co-founded by Mr. Siddhartha Bora (NIT Silchar alumnus), CEO, Mr. Manik Mittal (IIT Guwahati student), COO, Mr. Akash Sharma (IIT Guwahati student), SDE, Mr. Nitin Chauhan (IIT Guwahati student), Cloud Systems Architect, Mr. Dhritiman Talukdar (NIT Silchar alumnus), SDE and Mr. Kookil Pran Goswami (Dibrugarh University alumnus), Hardware Developer, AgSpert is leading this initiative in the North-Eastern India which has untapped potential, with diverse ecosystems having agriculture as the major economic activity. The developed application is multi-lingual and has an option of Assamese as well. This feature is a first among all the agri-tech applications available in the market.

 

Driven by hyper local crop data coming from satellite and smart IoT devices, AgSpeak considers up to 20 local crop parameters which are key indicators of their health like temperature, rainfall, sunlight hours, soil health status, among others, to alert farmers about probable crop threats in advance and suggest best practices to tackle the incoming threat, hence optimising the resources used and maximising productivity.

 

The app along with the IOT hardware has been tested for the past 3 months with 500 farmers and 2 tea estates. Some of the major breakthroughs by the algorithm were precise prediction of BLIGHT IN POTATO and TEA MOSQUITO BUG, along with WATER STRESS in winter crops. These are major reasons of woes to farmers and small tea growers of Assam and cause lakhs in crop damages if not controlled in time. 

 

Major commercial users of the product include commercial plantation farms (tea, lemon orchards, grape vineyards). The New Farm Bill 2020 is likely to boost formation of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs)/ Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) among general crop growers to work as a business as well, which is likely to increase adaptation of paid services that comes with the mobile app.

 

Nearly 250 farmers have already been provided hands on training in utilizing the full potential of the app. However, the user friendliness and multilingual features of the app make it extremely easy for farmers to use and seldom require training.  

 

The mobile app is completely free for general small farmers. There are in-app purchases like soil testing and agri-doctor consultation. Besides this, the IOT devices can be rented on monthly /yearly purposes by commercial farms to further enhance precision farm management.  It has been tested with many farmers and its practical utility established.



 

Congratulating the young entrepreneurs, Prof. T. G. Sitharam, Director IIT Guwahati, said, "It is a matter of immense pride that our students are working to bring out state-of-the-art technology for India's farmers. India is a leading agricultural country with immense potential, yet 2 billion people globally did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food in 2019 alone. To end this global starvation, we need to double agricultural productivity in the next 15 years. Unless we use technology appropriately in the agricultural sector, this would be impossible. Additionally, to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), we have ten more years to fulfil this SDG and to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. In all these directions, unless new technology is used, we will not be able to succeed. India aspires to become a US$ 5 trillion economy, and unless the younger generation of today's India don't stand up we cannot take on this challenge. I'm immensely proud of our students and wish them all the best for the immense contribution they are making for the farmers of our country."

 

Driven by hyper local crop data coming from satellite and smart IoT devices, AgSpeak considers up to 20 local crop parameters which are key indicators of their health like temperature, rainfall, sunlight hours, soil health status, among others, to alert farmers about probable crop threats in advance and suggest best practices to tackle the incoming threat, hence optimising the resources used and maximising productivity.

 

Highlighting the need of technological advancement in the agriculture sector, Mr. Manik Mittal, Chief Operating Officer, AgSpert, said, "Technological development in the agricultural sector has been very slow, with farmers relying on traditional methods, which are getting out-dated day by day due to several factors including population growth and climate change. We at AgSpert believe that technological intervention using Artificial Intelligence and drones will ensure food security, by increasing the productivity more than two-fold."

 

Apart from this, the start-up is also focusing on a high-tech product for large commercial plantation farms. Large plantation farms like tea, which are in abundance in North-East India, are facing a tremendous farm-labour crunch, especially post-COVID. To address this challenge, the AgSpert is developing a unique platform for plantation farm managers to automate scouting processes and realise areas of distress like disease, pest incidence and water stress, using drones. This technology will help the farm managers in identifying crop threats in a short period of time and take timely interventions to save the crop. The drone monitoring system is currently in the R&D stage. AgSpert is testing the product in collaboration with Assam Agricultural University and Tocklai Tea Research Institute, Assam. These are likely to expand to several other regions and farms in the future.

 

AgSpert is a self-funded start-up as of now.