ICRISAT’s iHub getting international attention

iHub facilitates innovation among agricultural tech entrepreneurs, scientists and technology experts to innovate for smallholder farmers.

By Author  |  Published: 4th Jan 2018  12:02 amUpdated: 4th Jan 2018  12:13 am
Icrisat
Set up last year in about 10,000 sft space, the incubator has 40 seats and more than 30 seats are taken.

Hyderabad: Incubator for agri-startups, iHub, set up at the Icrisat, is getting attention from South Africa and CGIAR members. Enthused by the success of iHub, which is modeled on the popular T-Hub, a few partners are keen on replicating it to improve farm productivity and farmer incomes while Icrisat is ready to play a peer role assisting them.

Set up last year in about 10,000 sft space, the incubator has 40 seats and more than 30 seats are taken by 10 companies operating there. iHub facilitates innovation among agricultural tech entrepreneurs, scientists and technology experts to innovate for smallholder farmers. It taps into the research capacities and expertise of Icrisat.

“We have companies working on Internet of Things, drones, artificial intelligence and analytics among others,” said Ram Kiran Dhulipala, head, digital agriculture, Icrisat.

The companies are working to connect farmers to farm input suppliers and farmers to end-users, aid Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) in compliance matters and related aspects, he said.

For instance, AheadRace, a new entrant at I-Hub, has an offering called Product On Ground (POG). The QR-based system can be used for tracking, documentation, maintenance and application of information related to supply chain processes. The cloud-based solution brings visibility into inputs (like seeds) inventory and track their distribution. Aegis, another player, is into making drones for agricultural operations. While one more player, Exabit, is working on low-cost weather stations. It collects 21 data points that impact the farming, the official said.

Pals Global, which has been working to connect farmers to markets, is tying up with NBFCs to get loans to farmers. Farmers, after their association with Pals Global, now have a transaction history which enhances their credit worthiness score. “Transactional footprint is available and this will help farmers access institutional loan,” said Dhulipala.

Progressive Environmental & Agricultural Technologies (PEAT), a German startup has developed Plantix, a pest diagnostic app that uses image recognition technology. The picture is analysed by PEAT’s algorithms, which identify optical patterns and return results. Information on symptoms, triggers, chemicals as well as biological treatments are provided to users. All pictures sent via the app are geo-tagged, thereby enabling real-time monitoring of pest and diseases.

“We should say the efforts of I-Hub are on the right track. We provided a platform for the companies to find new customers or partners. In two cases- Kalgudi and Keansa- we have also become their customers,” the official said.

While there are no immediate plans to increase the capacity of the incubator, Icrisat will look to serve CGIAR members in replicating the incubator model, he said.