This blog is based on the talk given by Om Routray, Vice President – Marketing, SourceTrace, at Vibrant Startup & Technology Summit 2019, organised by Government of Gujarat and GESIA.
Every time I get on the stage to talk about agritech, I see the audience has become bigger and more diverse. Four years back it was just 20 of us from different tech companies talking to each other. So, I will start by thanking all of you, the Gujarat Government, GESIA and the organisers.
Now, when we say agritech, all of us start imagining smart devices, sensors, satellites and all fancy things. Let me take you 20 years back. Then agritech meant tractors, harvesters, sprayers and all such machinery. That was an era of technological breakthrough too. What’s the difference?
The world was hungry. The yields were less. Everything was directed towards production. Now, when we say agritech, there a very clear and distinct understanding that we are talking of digital technologies. And, what are we talking about?
Of course, yield is one topic.
Weather prediction is another.
Increasing farmer incomes
Streamlining supply chain
Ensuring contamination free food.
Ensuring soil health
Adapting to changing weather patterns
Finding the right crop for the right climatic zone
Analysing consumption patterns and taking that data back to farming
So what are we talking about? We are talking about protecting what we have and sustaining it for longer. You see, the ecosystem has changed and what changed it?
Data. Access to data is changing the way we look at all of agriculture.
A farmer needs to know that the seed he is buying is optimal. A bank needs to predict how much your yield will be so that they can think of a loan amount. A consumer looks at a packet in a shop and is curious to know it is what the package says it is.
So what does this data do?
It builds trust between different stakeholders. It brings transparency. And the ultimate goal is sustainability.
I work for a company that does exactly that.
We work across 28 countries today. We have solutions implemented in aquaculture, forestry, agriculture, livelihood projects, animal husbandry and is also used by a fashion brand. When it comes to crops, we work on coffee, cocoa, cotton, fruits and vegetables, palm oil, spices and flavours and fragrances. The point of me saying all this is to show that we work across a healthy cross section and we see that sustainability is a key concern. And, that is the thrust of digital agriculture.
For a plantation in Africa, we mapped every tree to show which tree needs more inputs and attention. For another project, we tracked deforestation that was being caused by agriculture. For a cotton growing cooperative in India, we helped them get better prices in Europe. We are working with smallholder horticulture farmers in Haryana so that they get timely information and advice to grow healthier crops. We are using data for monitoring, generation of insights and to implement traceability across value chains. In all these efforts, farmers and organisations are rewarded for adopting better practices.
We are now working on building solutions and partnerships that will enable producers of better produce demand better price.
The current problem is that most of us look at sustainability as a cost, as something that is in the domain of non-profits and CSR funds. SourceTrace is founded on the belief that sustainability is the next biggest opportunity for businesses and the planet. We are not just interested in digitizing existing agricultural processes but we also want to create new use cases and opportunities. For example, we are now in talks with south American business to monitor food waste and methane emissions that will be used for carbon trading.
We believe that farm productivity, farmer income and business profitability will grow if we can adopt sustainable practices. In this, we need to focus on all three aspects of making the ecosystem sustainable:
1.Sustainability of resources
2.Sustainability of producers
3.Sustainability of businesses
This is not just feasible; it is already in the works. Our solutions are used by various stakeholders to ensure all of the above and we will love to demonstrate the same for anyone else who is interested. SourceTrace has the goal of making agriculture value chain:
We are looking forward to working with all stakeholders to bring about this transformation.
Today, at SourceTrace we’re happy to share our moment of pride and fulfillment, having made it as the cover story in the Food and Beverage Tech Review.
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