This agritech startup is helping farmers to reduce crop losses and earn more profit by using drones

Founded in 2016 by Amandeep Panwar and Rishabh Chaudhary, Delhi-based BharatRohan Airborne Innovations provides drone-based advisory services to nearly 6,000 farmers across 20,000 acres in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan

While studying aeronautical engineering at Babu Banarasi Das National Institute of Technology and Management, Lucknow, Amandeep Panwar, and Rishabh Chaudhary tested drones/UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in nearby farmer fields in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh.

After interacting with the farmers, he realized that almost every one of them faced issues related to pest attacks and crop diseases and they were not aware of this damage till the time of crop failure. does not reach the mouth. And as a result, the value of the crop destroyed would have exceeded the cost of controlling the pest.

According to a study by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), about 30-35 percent of the annual crop yield in India is wasted due to pests. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India estimates that it causes a loss of Rs 50,000 crore annually.

Amandeep, co-founder, and CEO of Bharatrohan Airborne Innovation tells The Clare People, “Farmers apply insecticides only when the infestation crosses the EIL (Economic Injury Level – the lowest population density of an insect that causes economic damage). Similarly, soil test-based nutrient deficiencies hinder the quality of crop growth and soil fertility is being reduced by the over-use of fertilizers.

He explains, “We realized that this increases the cost of agricultural inputs manifold and drastically reduces the profit realization for the farmer. This problem gave rise to the idea that farmers should have an end-to-end decision support system that can provide pest and disease diagnosis at an early stage.”

Upon further research, Amandeep and Rishabh found that drones fitted with imaging spectrometers (hyperspectral cameras) can play a vital role in getting the right data at the right time.

He collaborated with Dr. KD Singh, who was then a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis. He helped them analyze the data and create the proprietary Spectral Vegetation Index, which has been instrumental in the early diagnosis of crop issues such as pest attacks, disease outbreaks, and nutrient deficiencies, even before any visible damage occurs. played the part. 

In 2016, just after dropping out of college, he Founded BharatRohan, Airborne Innovations, a technology-enabled end-to-end system to optimize input utilization, minimize crop losses, and maximize profit margins by facilitating crop advisory services through UAV/drone-based hyperspectral imagery. Provides end decision support system.

what does BharatRohan do?

The agritech startup currently provides drone-based advisory services to about 6,000 farmers in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan – about 20 percent of whom buy agri-inputs from the company.

The founders say this relationship enables startups to implement sustainable farming practices and track every agricultural activity on the ground. As a result, it ensures that the agricultural produce meets the quality standards of the buyers as Bharatrohan also procures agricultural produce from the same farmers, and supplies them to major retail chains, FMCG players, spice manufacturers, and exporters based in India.

The startup provides agri-advisory services at farmers’ fields at every stage of the crop life cycle i.e. before sowing, between sowing and harvesting, till all light and fine soil works.

Amandeep claims, “Farmers working with Bharatrohan have increased their crop production by 15-20 percent while saving 215,000 liters of water per season, which has helped farmers significantly increase their profit margins “

Registered in Delhi, Bharatrohan has its corporate and regional offices in Lucknow and Hyderabad respectively.

Team

The startup currently has a team size of 20 members.

With a strong technical background, the founders developed a product offering that provides data to prevent insect attacks and reduce crop damage. With timely data access through drones, the startup enables farmers to practice precision agriculture.

While farmers initially intended to pay for the data, the team turned to a model that offered a comprehensive procurement platform for institutional buyers with the ability to trace significant price increases. The solution is all-encompassing and provides farmers and FPOs (Farmer Producer Organisations) access to markets through a buyback mechanism. Paying customers to get access to a farm traceability platform as well as pesticide and residue-free agricultural commodities.

The company is providing ‘Fair for Life’ certified agricultural products along with the demand of the export market, which can offer higher margins for startups as well as farmers.

USP

The USP of Bharatrohan is a unique hyperspectral imaging enabled UAV/Drone-based Decision Support System (DSS) that enables early diagnosis of pest attacks, disease outbreaks, and nutrient deficiencies to ensure pesticide residue reduction for farmers. helps. Spectral Vegetation Index (SVI) are developed in-house which helps in the early diagnosis of crop issues. 

“We have a technology-based outgrower program for farmers/FPCs (Farmer Producer Companies) with commodity buyback arrangements,” says Amandeep.

Funding and Monetization

Bharatrohan has, separately, now through a mix of grants (supported by the Biotechnology Institute of Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), established by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, and equity (Upaya Social Ventures, and Acumen Fund Inc.) So far, around Rs 3 crore has been raised.

The startup earned a revenue of around Rs 6 crore in this financial year. The company has demonstrated positive EBITDA. Positive EBITDA means that the company is profitable at an operational level.

BharatRohan sells agricultural products (seeds spices, pulses and essential oils) to modern retailers, FMCG companies and manufacturers. It sells agri-inputs to partner farmers and FPCs.

Bharatrohan is serving 6,000 farmers with a total area of ​​20,000 acres. It operates in three states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. The startup’s clients include More Retail Pvt Ltd, Aachi Special Foods, Spencer’s, ITC Ltd, Dabur Ltd and Suhana Masala.

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