Telangana’s “Saagu Baagu” (agricultural advancement) pilot project with the guidance of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has impacted the lives of over 7,000 chilli farmers in the State and the second phase of the project is set to take off. 

The impact on the lives of these farmers has been created by providing them access to agtech services such as AI-based advisories, soil testing, produce quality testing and e-commerce — under “Saagu Baagu” pilot project.  WEF has also released a report “How AI and emerging technologies are shaping the future of agriculture in India’s Telangana State” based on the results of the pilot “Saagu Baagu” project. 

AI4AI crux of project

In a statement, the Switzerland-based WEF said its “Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture Innovation” (AI4AI) initiative is the crux of the “Saagu Baagu” project, addressing the challenges of  fragmented technological infrastructure, high costs of operations, lack of access to data and limited technical expertise, while hampering the scale of their impact.

AI4AI aims to transform the agriculture sector in India by promoting the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies.

The “Saagu Baagu” project focuses on transformation of each agriculture value chain by easing agtech services delivery to the end customer through administrative, policy support and through digital public infrastructure.

“I am thrilled to announce the release of the Saagu Baagu Phase 1 report, highlighting our groundbreaking collaboration with the WEF. Through the utilisation of artificial intelligence, we aim to empower farmers with data-driven crop advisories and market intelligence, ultimately striving to foster agricultural prosperity within our State,” said KT Rama Rao, Minister of ITE&C, Industries and Commerce, and Urban Development of Telangana.

Scaling up to cover groundnut growers

“Telangana’s experience highlights the need for governments to play an enabling role and consider non-financial yet high-impact areas to help scale agritech services. A focus on value chains is also needed to ensure efforts are focused, organised and outcome-oriented,” said Purushottam Kaushik, Head of the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in India.

The project was initiated in 2022 and is being implemented by Digital Green (in consortium with three agritech start-ups) with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In the second phase, the project will be scaled up from 2023 onwards to 20,000 chilli and ground farmers in three districts. Public infrastructure — India’s first agricultural sandbox, an agricultural data exchange and agri-data management framework — will be included in this phase to support agritech services. 

In the third phase, which will begin in 2025, other crops and districts will be included and at least 1,00,000 farmers in Telangana will be roped in.