In India, heavy rain has increased threefold since 1950 and heatwaves have become more common and severe. Research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that these trends are set to increase in the decades ahead.
This will have a severe impact on agriculture. Shifting weather patterns, rising temperatures and increases in extreme weather events all negatively impact crop growth. This can lead to declining yields and food quality; putting the livelihoods of millions of famers across India at risk and threatening food security. To survive, farmers urgently need to become more resilient to climate change.
One company taking a pioneering approach to helping farmers address this challenge is CropIn, a specialist in software for agribusiness.
“A one-degree change in temperature will bring down the agricultural productivity of the major foods we consume by 20-30 per cent” explains Krishna Kumar, CEO and Co-Founder of CropIn. “At the same time we need to feed ten billion people by 2050. The maths doesn’t add up.”
CropIn ‘digitises’ the farm management process, using technology such as satellite images, artificial intelligence and machine learning to monitor crop health remotely, make yield predictions, and then pass on these insights to farmers through their SmartFarm platform. The level of data the company acquires through their technology is impressive.
“SmartFarm has been deployed in 52 different countries,” says Krishna. “We are working on 400 different crops and 10,000 different varieties, which is generating ground-up data. So we know what happened on a particular farm during a particular season, what diseases were present, which varieties were grown and what practices were followed. Our technology absorbs all this data and learns from it, which gives us the ability to support farmers on an exact plot. Beyond this, when you have samples from 16 million acres of land, you have the ability to build a general model which performs consistently, and it can give you a regional view as well.
CropIn gathers data on 10,000 different crop varieties
“In India we’ve done a programme where we work with farmers to help them adopt a drought-resilient variant of certain crops. If you’re starting to use a new crop variant which will be resilient to climate change, you also need to adopt the right practices to grow it. We used our platform to not only help farmers adopt the right practices but we shared information about diseases, changing weather patterns and how should they act. There was a significant improvement in their livelihoods as a result.”
Studies show that, on average, farmers’ incomes increase by 25 per cent in the first year of using CropIn’s technology. Also, climate resilience improves for 92 per cent of them. The company is achieving a scale just not possible with traditional models. To date, it has reached four million farmers, mostly in India, and now it’s quickly expanding into Africa. It has the potential to reach 9.5 million farmers across Africa and India by 2022.
CropIn is a co-investment with Chiratae Ventures under CDC’s Venture Scale-up Programme.
of farmers using CropIn's technology are more climate resilient