This Bengaluru agritech startup is revolutionising seed classification with vision-based intelligence
According to a Bain & Co report, close to 55 percent of Indians still depend on agriculture for their livelihood. It stated that the sector is at the cusp of technology disruption, among many others.
Founded in May 2020, Bengaluru-based agritech startup Agdhi Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is one such startup that leverages ML and computer vision for seed classification, thereby enabling the farming community to procure quality seeds for better yield.
“Seed companies spend a good amount of money and effort in identifying genetic purity, parental purity, hybrid purity, varietal purity, etc., using various methods like ODV, germination, and grow out tests (GOT). These methods are human-centric and highly expensive,” Nikhil Das, Co-founder and CEO, Agdhi, tells YourStory.
Co-founders of Agdhi
Through its AI, computer vision, photometry, and radiometry technology, Agdhi offers efficient methods for seed classification and quality analysis to determine a seed’s hybrid purity, parental purity, germination percentage, etc.
Nikhil Das, Anshad Ameenza, Ashwin Kashikar, and Vaibhav Kashikar got the idea for Agdhi while on a trip to an agricultural field.
“I realised that although the technology is advancing in agriculture, the penetration of electronics hardware-based intelligent solutions is not matured in areas like seed industry,” Nikhil shares.
Hailing from Kerala, Nikhil is a tech innovator and entrepreneur who has built and scaled various startups in India. He manages Agdhi's overall operations and resources, hardware/embedded team, and finance activities.
With over 16 years of experience, Anshad has built successful teams on AI, product engineering, cloud, Big Data infrastructure, data centre, etc. He handles Agadhi’s technology roadmap, software division, product roadmaps, and techno-commercial marketing.
With experience in agriculture and exposure to seed breeding and seed development and production activities, Ashwin Manages the Agri R&D division, while Vaibhav manages the marketing activities. He earlier worked with the National Seed Association of India and Seed Industries Association of Maharashtra, among others.
The startup has a team size of 30 members, consisting of AI/ML, front-end, and back-end developers, UX/UI team, embedded developers, hardware design team, quality control team, purchase manager, and production support team.
Agdhi’s flagship product SeedVision — an AI-based seed phenotyping method — helps in classifying critical parameters of a seed in a few minutes.
With SeedVision, each seed is analysed for its phenotypic character with the help of ML algorithms that predicts the yield outcomes, analyses seed health insight, and take action based on the insights.
While standalone solutions take images of seed samples and provide insights regarding the quality of the seed, Agdhi’s computer vision and ML models screens seed quality automatically, where its colour, texture, size, and shape are extracted from images, and the unique signatures of the seeds are identified through various classifications.
Agdhi's flagship product SeedVision
This automated technique provides an efficient method for seed sorting compared to manual inspection, and the reports are accessible on a real-time basis.
Nikhil says SeedVision costs between Rs 40 and 45 lakh for a single unit based on the seed varieties selected.
"SeedVision is indirectly helping farmers in getting good seeds for cultivation and is also helping growers improve the number of cycles because of faster payment realisation from seed companies," he says.
The startup is also working on another product Planto — a mobile platform, backed by the learnings from the crop level data mapped by a plant’s entire life cycle. — which it will roll out as a separate product in the coming years to farmers.
Planto will help farmers in the early detection of potential crop damage, and provide analysis and suggestions to farmers on the health of the crop.
The app will also connect them to the industry experts, thereby helping them diagnose the crops from one’s mobile.
According to MarketsandMarkets, the Indian seed industry is over a $2 billion market and spends over 15 percent of revenue in R&D.
Nikhil says, typically, a company takes five to seven years in releasing a hybrid into the market. Using SeedVision during R&D, the tracking and prediction become more accurate, which helps seed companies and agricultural research organisations save two to three years once they plot the growth parameters into our system.
“We also plan to tie up with government and private agencies, which will help smaller players to avail our service at an affordable cost,” he adds.
Image Credits: YS Design Team
Mixing of the seeds at various stages in the supply chain is a huge challenge in the seed industry as it becomes difficult to prove their quality.
Using SeedVision, a seed company can prove the seed’s quality and help them save the huge claims made by various parties.
In fact, the product can also help with the quality assurance of the food processing industries, claims Nikhil.
Initial traction and road ahead
Bengaluru-based life science incubator Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) announced Agdhi as the winner of its fourth National Bio Entrepreneurship Competition (NBEC 2020).
Agdhi also secured the best agri startup award and received Rs 50 lakh cash award from Big Grand. It was also selected as the best agri startup in the KSAP programme.
The bootstrapped startup is also planning to secure funding this year.
At present, the startup has collaborated with seed companies working on newer technologies, including blockchain, edge computing, IoT, and microbiology in agriculture.
It has been supported by Innovation Incubator Holdings, US, at various stages of technology development.
“We are associated with the biggest seed manufacturer in the world and are closely working with the top players in India. We have been approved by five major players in the Indian seed industry and one global player,” Nikhil claims.
“We are in the process of mapping the seed signatures acquired by SeedVision to the actual crops, which will help us build a highly predictable module,” adds Nikhil.
In FY21, Agdhi generated a revenue of Rs 15 lakh. It competes globally with companies — SeedX and Videometer.
“At present, we have orders for over half a million in hand, and we expect to grow to a Rs 500 crore business in the next five years,” Nikhil claims.