How Cropin is leveraging AWS to deliver future-ready solutions to the entire agricultural ecosystem
Agriculture was once considered to be the government's responsibility, but today more players are recognising gaps in the value chain and using technology to address challenges like inadequate credit, lack of infrastructure facilities, unorganised cultivation and distribution of produce. In fact, during the pandemic, agritech not only outperformed other industries, but the pace of digitisation surged dramatically. According to Bain & Company’s ‘Indian Agriculture: Ripe for Disruption’ report, the market valuation of the sector will be US$30-35 billion by 2025.
However, one issue that remains is farmers’ lack of information about what they should produce and when. This is where global ag-ecosystem intelligence provider, Cropin, comes into the picture. Headquartered in Bengaluru,is leveraging AWS to facilitate various stakeholders in the ag-ecosystem, including financial services providers, to enable and drive digital strategy and adoption across their agricultural operations. Cropin assists businesses to digitise their operations and leverage near real-time farm data and actionable insights to make effective decisions.
Keeping the farmer at the forefront
Cropin was founded by Krishna Kumar in 2010, who left his secure job to address the pain points of hundreds of farmers across the country. This was an era when very few countries in the world were using technology in agriculture.
"When we started, most of our folks didn't come from an agricultural background. Our mantra was always to get an outside perspective while trying to solve the larger problem of the ecosystem," says Jitesh Shah, Chief Revenue Officer, Cropin.
Initially, Cropin worked directly with farmers but soon realised that with 146 million farmers in India and half a billion around the world, scale would be impossible if they continued this approach. Cropin pivoted their solution and go-to-market to work with enterprises in the agriculture ecosystem, and large aggregate points to accelerate their ability to engage and impact millions of farmers across the globe.
Cropin’s technological solutions are built to be adaptive to climate change and land topography challenges, while operating well under changing scenarios. Cropin works closely with stakeholders in the agriculture ecosystem, including farming and processing companies, aggregators, exporters, food retailers, commodity traders, agri inputs companies which include farm machinery, seeds, and chemicals. It also works with banking and financial institutions, crop insurance providers, development agencies, NGOs, and government bodies.
Partnering with AWS
In 2014, Cropin was looking for a geography-agnostic partner and had the technical expertise to ensure system downtime was not an issue. "In the farming sector, even if you have a few days knocked off because systems are not operating, there's a huge cost to pay, productivity hits rock bottom, and it directly impacts farmers’ livelihood," says Jitesh.
With the vision to 'maximise per acre value’, Cropin partnered with AWS to develop a range of comprehensive solutions that add value to agri-businesses by increasing efficiency, scaling productivity, and strengthening sustainability across the board.
Cropin’s SmartFarm digitises farm level processes by combining satellite data, weather data, and data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices to enable agri stakeholders to make better decisions. SmartFarm helps farmers improve yields and deliver better farming outcomes by identifying patterns in crops and detecting threats like diseases, pest infestations, or irrigation issues earlier than manual tracking methods. SmartFarm caters to the entire farming ecosystem and covers every practice involved, including crop land planning, seeds sowing, application of fertilisers and pesticides, weather tracking, harvesting, and other day-to-day farming activities.
To help farmers predict crop yield, mitigate environmental risks and improve their financial standing, Cropin developed SmartRisk using AWS technologies. It allows lending and financial institutions to validate farm information by comparing it with historical and predictive insights, allowing them to underwrite loans and process credit to farmers.
Cropin has successfully impacted the lives of 7 million farmers by digitising 16 million acres of farmland, by working closely with over 250+ enterprises and government institutions across 56 countries, digitising 400 crops and 10,000+ crop varieties.
Seamless deployment and the journey to scale
Cropin is able to manage higher loads and quickly stand up servers on AWS, allowing it to scale for the demand it sees for its solutions. It is also able to meet growing customer demand, without making significant changes to its system.
Cropin leverages several managed services provided by AWS to run its SaaS solutions and daily workloads, including Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Services (Amazon EKS), Amazon Athena, Amazon S3, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), among others.
The company uses security features including Amazon GuardDuty, AWS CloudTrail and AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF). By building a data lake on AWS, Cropin is also able to build a scalable serverless framework of APIs that can be securely accessed from multiple region-specific scale units, as part of their vision of building a global ag-ecosystem intelligence platform.
AWS also provides Cropin data security and auditability across services like AWS Lambda, Amazon SageMaker, Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), Amazon Kinesis, and Amazon Athena. "The implementation of AWS into our solutions has enabled us to be agile while responding to our customer needs and added value to our business," says Jitesh.
AWS’s cloud capabilities have enabled Cropin to scale its services rapidly to meet surges in demand as the company expands into new geographies. As the company’s customers and use cases grew, Cropin moved into a microservices architecture and started running machine learning workloads with Amazon SageMaker.
Expanding global footprint
Today, with a team size of 200+, Cropin is a leader in the agritech market, and is continuously evolving its data-driven and AI/ML solutions for the global agriculture sector. There's also a pipeline of new products to support the acceleration of penetration and adoption of mobile and internet in the rural space.
Cropin will continue to collaborate with AWS as it accelerates its engagement in the global agriculture sector. "AWS has significant relationships with enterprises in the agri ecosystem and we definitely see synergies. Jointly with AWS, we are keen to build solutions that can create more value for our customers," says Jitesh.
He adds that with the increasing focus on building a sustainable and robust agriculture practice across the globe, the farmer will be at the centre of the transformation in this sector. "Only with the farmer as the primary beneficiary can we truly solve the last mile challenge and enable sustainable scale," he says.