Agriculture Ministry has invited expression of interest (EoI) by November 7 from start ups/companies to work with the government for leveraging their innovations in nine specific areas such as weather-based information products and services, crop yield estimation and weather-pest modelling.

The Ministry has identified nine broad areas where companies are already working and all the proposals will be evaluated by a 17-member screening committee, headed by an additional secretary of the ministry and members drawn from ICAR, IIT, IIM and NITI Aayog, officials said.

During consultative process, the committee will seek presentations from applicants to identify specific technologies in targeted interventions relevant to the Indian agriculture sector that have the potential to be scaled up, according to a government note seen by businessline.

The committee shall examine the concept, value proposition and action plan of the idea to understand the potential feasibility and its scalability, and accordingly recommend suitable entities, which will be finalised by Agriculture Ministry. The selected projects will be partially funded by government through grants, sources said.

Weather-based info

The Ministry invites companies to propose the adoption of advanced satellite meteorology techniques for obtaining weather data with a 1-3 km granularity. The proposal should also include validation of these parameters through in-situ measurements from weather stations, which will be a crucial factor in evaluating the proposal’s acceptability for generating weather-based information products and services for agriculture applications.

The Ministry also wants simplified and scalable innovative models to generate crop yield estimates of major crops such as paddy and wheat at village/panchayat level. The technology-driven solution should undertake periodic assessments during crop season starting from a month after sowing till the end of season, with increasing accuracies. The companies so selected should have capabilities to submit final yield estimates within a month after harvest with an accuracy of more than 85 per cent, compared with scientifically measured reference yield data.

Pest attacks

Taking note of the pink bollworm attack in coton crops that caused havoc in many northern States this year, the Ministry wants solution for weather-pest modelling and farmer advisories in which data-driven models will be preferred. It should have forewarning capabilities on pest occurrence and also a strong advisory system that reaches farmers. Fall Army Worm in maize, bph/stem borer in paddy are some of the common diseases that recur every season.

The government is also keen to have drone-based low-cost solutions to improve digital crop survey. Besides, companies having voice-assisted AI/ML-based applications for providing personalised advisories in their regional languages to the farmers may also apply for the digital agriculture project.

The ministry seeks collaboration with private entrepreneurs in various areas, including mapping soil organic carbon at the farm level, assessing carbon sequestration potential in crop lands and current cropping systems, conducting photo analytics and crop assessments, and evaluating the impact of hailstorms on crops.

“Collaborative efforts with innovative agencies or knowledge organisations in private sector will benefit the government in developing new tools and products to support digital agriculture initiatives,” a senior official said. The EoI seeks to create an enabling environment for innovations and ideas to be piloted with potential to scale up, the official added.