This agritech startup enables farmers to generate maximum produce with precision farming advisory
In India, agriculture supports the livelihood of over 60 percent of the population, according to market and consumer data provider Statista, and contributes to over 18 percent GDP.
However, a whopping 82 percent farmers are small or marginalised, with limited access to high-end technology, crop experts, and markets.
This is why Jagan Chitiprolu, Kalyan Enjamoori, and Dr Shyamsundar Reddy in 2020 conceptualisedwith a singular goal: offering precision farming advisory to farmers.
The Hyderabad-based startup leverages wireless devices on fields to capture soil moisture, soil temperature, soil pH, electrical conductivity, and weather data.
Smartphones with micro-lens attachments are used to capture pests that are invisible to the naked eye. The information is sent to a data centre where expert advisors provide recommendations to farmers after thoroughly reviewing the data.
This enables farmers to optimise the use of raw materials like fertilisers, seeds, water, etc., and generate maximum produce while ensuring optimum crop health.
Kalyan, CTO, Samhitha, says: “Samhitha collects and analyses data for parameters like soil, rainfall, air, leaf wetness, irrigation water quality, etc. Drones continuously monitor the crops for any stress, and can detect it instantaneously with the help of customised AI and machine learning algorithms.”
Samhitha provides advisory at individual tree level with the help of its unique 'Digital Tree Health Audit' (DTHA) System, a unique method of recording, analysing, and interpreting the health of individual trees in a farm through data, telemetry devices, and the Citron app.
The DTHAS method helps generate virtual maps, delivering a detailed picture of the health status of the orchard, both historically and in real time.
“This kind of personalisation wasn't possible before,” says Jagan, MD, Samhitha, and a Harvard Business School alumnus.
Samhitha solves two most critical challenges in precision farming advisory – data-driven advisory on time, and clinical treatment at the individual tree level. Its Citron app analyses data points pertaining to soil, weather, and plant to communicate recommendations to the farmers.
With the proprietary data processing engine, the app enables detection and classification of more than 50 diseases in trees.
Jagan is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and a serial entrepreneur. He founded C2S Technologies and Naviz Analytics; Samhitha is his third entrepreneurial venture.
Shyamsundar holds a doctorate in agriculture. He worked as a research faculty at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, for 14 years. He also served as Senior Scientist and Head for KVK, Medak, for two years.
Kalyan graduated from JNTU, Hyderabad in electronics and communication engineering. He attained proficiency in AI and ML, IoT, and data analytics, and has been the director of technical operations for Naviz Analytics company.
The trio thought they would be a vital combination for an agritech company.
Samhitha's team has grown to more than 100 members within a year.
“There are plenty of agri-professionals available who can deliver advisory with adequate training and content support,” Jagan says.
The present and future
Commenting on the traction Samhitha has gained until now, Jagan says, “We conducted a pilot run in the Telangana region, focusing exclusively on citrus growers. Spanning across four lakh trees and 3,500 acres, Samhitha enabled farmers to clock over 30 percent higher yield YOY and identified more than 52 on-field defects.”
Samhitha charges 10 percent of the total harvest as service charges, more than or equal to Rs 12,000 per acre per annum.
The agritech startup is at present focused exclusively on citrus growers in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, but plans to expand its advisory services across India.
As per Jagan, citrus crop is cultivated in 25 lakh acres in India. “There is huge scope for other crops like grapevines, pomegranate, papaya, banana, mango etc. As of now, farm advisory is not a competitive market, but it has started evolving in recent years with the help of technology.”
Other startups helping farmers increase their yield using technology are ELAI AgriTech, DeHaat, Cropin, Aibono, Fasal, BharatAgri among others.
In November 2021, Samhitha raised $1.5 million in a seed round led by TechStar Group, and participated by Quadrant Resource and angel investors. The company plans to leverage these funds to accelerate advisor onboarding and team expansion. The funds will further boost Samhitha’s plan to solve market linkage challenges for the farmers and amplify their profitability.
The startup, which was started with an initial capital of $5 million, is gearing up to cover more than one lakh acres of citrus crop only in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the next three years, with an expected revenue of Rs 100 crore.
“Samhitha has already crossed the 500-farmer mark and its client base is growing rapidly,” says Jagan, adding that the startup is targeting a revenue of Rs 6 crore from its first cluster “during the next couple of years”.