Startups in Bengaluru are helping coconut farmers in a very innovative way

Just in case you had this notion that startups in India meant ecommerce sites with some flash sale and discounts, here’s Bengaluru -based FlyBird Innovation to prove you wrong. The weather experts having forecasted a drop in amount of rainfall this season, farmers in southern states of the country were having sleepless nights, that is until FlyBird came to their rescue, with their own brand of innovative irrigation solutions.

These technology startups are helping to reduce water usage by almost 40%, according to the Economic Times. Karnataka being a leading producer of coconuts requires plenty of water as coconut plants are guzzlers. An increasing number of startups is developing much-needed and affordable solutions for farmers across the agricultural cycle - for eliminating pests, smarter irrigation, precise weather forecasting, and improving yields - that could help three-fifths of India's 1.2 billion people who are dependent on monsoon rains.

"Our solution for precise irrigation also increases crop yield and gives farmers higher returns by 10-15%," said Saitsh KS, founder of FlyBird. At a price of Rs 16,000-Rs 28,000, the firm's technology costs about one-third of similar US and Israeli variants, he said.

For the farmers, the savings are more fundamental. "A coconut plant requires 100 litres of water a day. With the earlier flooding system I would overuse water by as much 1,000 litres. Now this extra water can be used for other crops,” a farmer told ET.

Farmers can also look up to Skymet Weather Services for a more accurate telling of the weather. The private forecaster - using a system that is a combination of historical data and high speed computing - has been closer to actual rainfall in the past three years than the Indian Meteorological Department. The Noida-based firm has also facilitated crop insurance claims for 13-15 million farmers, said Jatin Singh, founder and chief executive.

For pest control, Bengaluru-based Barrix has developed phermone-based traps and sticky sheets. "Farmers spend Rs 1,500-3,000 per spray per acre of land with commercially available pesticides. Even then pests get resistance and come back and damage crops," said Lokesh Makam, founder and CEO, adding that Barrix has sold its products to 60,000 farmers across 16 states.

"There is a huge upside to improve productivity by using non-traditional technologies, i.e., bringing other functional expertise into agriculture viz-a-viz IT, analytics, data, sensors, pharmaceutical concepts, etc," Jinesh Shah, founding partner, Omnivore Partners, an agriculture-focused venture capital firm that has backed both Skymet and Barrix told the financial daily. "The marriage of these technologies to solve agriculture problems can be fruitful for investors going forward."

(Image: Wikimedia)
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