In 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau of India (NCRB) reported 5,650 farmer suicides. The reasons are: inadequate monsoon, indebtedness, bankruptcy, and falling prices and falling income along with personal reasons. A new analytics startup, SatSure, seeks to bridge the gap by using space technology to help farmers increase their incomes. SatSure was established in 2015 by a team of space engineers who worked at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The startup influences advances in satellites, machine learning and big data analytic to monitor agriculture trends. It also intends to address issues of financial inclusion and food security.
Speaking on the new technology, SatSure's CEO, Amardeep Sibia, said that the technology arena has been undergoing a revolution with a large number of earth observation satellites being launched. “Their numbers are growing and the cost of satellite data is falling. These satellites can scan the Earth very quickly and at a low cost. A single satellite image can cover an area as big as 290 sq km. So, the entire Telengana can be covered by up to five images,” he added.
According to him, satellites can easily monitor agriculture. “Satellites can easily and quickly provide answers to critically important questions like what crop needs to be grown, where it is growing, how well is the crop growing, what will be the yield of the crop, what is the impact of weather and the relative performance of the crops across the district or state, what is the level of irrigation or water stress in the crop, the advance estimate of crop output a month before actual harvest, and how well is the harvest progressing” he explained.
The startup was an award winner at the Global AgTech Pitch organized by the Government of AP and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Vishakhapatnam last year. After winning the award, they entered a multi-year execution MoU with the AP. Under the agreement, they are currently executing a pilot in Srikakulam district.
The pilot will be followed by a state-wide roll-out, which covers crop monitoring data for the entire state with focus on financial, insurance and market linkages. Speaking about innovation, Amardeep said: “Our target is to provide farm information at Rs 1 per day, per acre. This requires us to be extremely innovative in using cloud technologies, advanced data science techniques and pricing constructs.”