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Here’s how BharatAgri is helping farmers through AI

Written by Capria Admin
August 29, 2023

Highlights

  • BharatAgri was co-founded in 2018 by IIT Madras alumni Siddharth Dialani and Sai Gole.
  • The agritech startup’s AI-powered bot specializes in answering farmers’ queries.
  • BharatAgri also operates a YouTube channel that shares farming tips and all other crop-related information.

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India is an agricultural country, and agriculture has always been an integral part of the Indian economy. The country has a rich history of agricultural practices. However, with the increasing population, it has become essential to adopt modern technology to increase productivity and efficiency in the agriculture sector. In recent years, major changes have occurred in Indian agriculture due to modern solutions introduced by Agritech startups, which are making agriculture more effective beyond the scope of traditional methods. Currently, there are many Agritech startups in India that are working to make agriculture more effective and sustainable by using modern technology. These startups help farmers manage their crops better, increase productivity, and reduce wastage.

Just as Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) has proven beneficial in other sectors, it has the potential to propel India’s agritech sector to new heights, leading to the growth of the country’s economy. According to NITI Aayog, the integration of AI has the potential to contribute $1 trillion to India’s economy by 2035.

In such a situation, Bengaluru-based crop-input e-commerce startup BharatAgri has brought a game-changing solution for farmers. It has successfully integrated GenAI into its business model, revolutionizing the way farmers engage with its platform. Using the GPT (Generative Pre-Trend Transformer) model, BharatAgri’s AI-powered bot is adept at answering farmers’ questions, reducing the error rate compared to humans.

BharatAgri was founded in the year 2018 by IIT Madras alumni Siddharth Dialiani and Sai Gole.

What does this startup do?

BharatAgri is an advisor-driven crop-input e-commerce platform for farmers, addressing the major problem of low farm production. Unfortunately, many Indian farmers do not employ scientific techniques in farming. They sometimes purchase incorrect or costly seeds and fertilizers which leads to low productivity and losses and as a result they are unable to fully harness their farms’ potential.

The startup bridges this gap by providing personalized scientific techniques for agricultural management, spanning from land preparation to harvesting, nutrition management, pest and disease control, water management, and inter-cropping operations. BharatAgri combines weather-based parameters with agricultural data to offer more accurate advice to farmers.

Business Model

Speaking with YourStory, Siddharth Dialani, co-founder and CEO of BharatAgri, elaborates on its business model, “We learned that there is a huge gap in the industry, and there is a lack of access for farmers to obtain personalized and dynamic scientific advice. In fact, access to affordable and high-quality seeds and fertilizers also remains a challenge. We realized that BharatAgri needed to build a doctor-patient relationship rather than just being an e-commerce platform.”

He further explains, “Farmers use the BharatAgri platform to receive the right advice for their farms. For example, how to treat a particular disease on their crops. BharatAgri recommends the appropriate crop inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides. It provides scientific solutions to the problems. Farmers can purchase agricultural inputs from the platform, which are delivered in 3-4 working days.”

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How does BharatAgri work?

CEO Siddharth explains, “Our solution works in two ways. First, farmers enter information about their farms, such as the crop, area, irrigation, etc. Our system provides information about pests/diseases that the crop may encounter in the coming days and predicts disease/growth-related problems. This information can help farmers prevent issues and improve crop growth. Farmers can then place orders for the suggested solutions. All advisories provided to users are generated through an AI-powered system. Our system uses data obtained from farmers, weather stations, soil maps, and satellite imaging. This not only makes the system scalable but also accurate. More than 30 parameters are taken into account before giving any recommendations to farmers.

Siddharth adds, ‘Secondly, farmers can search for a particular product and place an order directly from their mobile devices. This helps farmers access new products that are often superior and not available at high prices in local markets. These products are delivered straight to their doorsteps promptly, usually within 1-2 days, and farmers are assured of the authenticity of these products. Purchasing them from local stores has been a major problem.

Funding and Revenue

BharatAgri is a Series A-funded company. In February 2023, it raised INR 14 crore in an expanded Series A round led by Capria Ventures. This round also saw the participation of renowned investors, including Omnivore, India Quotient, 021 Capital, Ratnagiri Impex, and Sanjeev Rangrass. Before this, in September 2021, the startup had raised $6.5 million in a Series A round led by Omnivore, with participation from India Quotient and 021 Capital.

As BharatAgri suggests the right crop inputs like seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides to the farmers, it derives its revenue from each product sold on the platform. However, the co-founders did not disclose the revenue figures.

CEO Siddharth Dialani explains, “The BharatAgri platform currently generates 25,000+ orders per month. It is expected to grow to 50,000+ orders per month by the end of the calendar year.”

Challenges

What were the challenges faced in setting up this business? In response, Siddharth says, “When we started the company in 2018, smartphone penetration in rural India was very low. Today, smartphone usage is at an all-time high and growing rapidly, and people are active on social media platforms like YouTube. This gives us an opportunity to be present where they spend most of their time. BharatAgri’s YouTube channel is one of our biggest acquisition channels. We have around 106K subscribers, and videos providing advanced farming tips are watched by many farmers”

Siddharth explains, “We also realized that even though farmers are active on smartphones, they need additional support to understand scientific advice and place orders online. That’s when we developed generative AI-powered customer support, starting with a chat application. Today, 30% of our queries are resolved by chatbots. This not only increases our efficiency but also makes our customer support more accurate and faster. Users can then order farm inputs directly from the chat window.”

The co-founder further explains, “Using the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) model, BharatAgri’s AI-powered bot is adept at answering farmers’ queries while reducing the error rate compared to humans. Our chatbot answers basic agricultural and non-agricultural queries of users through an interactive chat interface. Currently, the chatbot is available in English, Hindi, and Marathi. We will soon expand to include Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu, and Assamese. We are planning to include more languages.”

Siddharth Dialani explains, “We are also actively working on adding more features to make the chatbot easier for farmers to use, such as making recommendations on the right farming solutions like seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, ordering products, and tracking them. For example, a farmer can type in a quick query that onions are turning yellow in his field, and the chatbot will respond with information about potential crop problems and recommend the appropriate pesticides. We are also looking into incorporating voice support to further simplify the process so that farmers do not have to rely on typing their queries.”

“We believe this transformative technology will also help us increase our revenue by providing accurate scientific advice and assisting our users in choosing the right products to address their crop-related problems,” says Siddharth.

Future Plans

Siddharth Dialani, co-founder and CEO of BharatAgri, claims that every month, over 5 lakh farmers use the BharatAgri app or website for farm management advice with personalized farm inputs, from land preparation to harvesting.

Talking about future plans, Siddharth says, “Our main focus is to leverage Generative AI on our platform. Apart from this, we also plan to expand our product portfolio and introduce new categories such as tools, equipment, gardening products, etc., with over 10,000 SKUs on the platform. We are also working on adding more languages like Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, etc., to the platform. We will be opening fulfillment centers in different states to enable delivery to most of the pin codes in the minimum time.”

This article was originally published on YourStory >

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