Making crop testing as easy as drinking water, researchers at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) have combined AI-driven models and pocket-size near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) devices.

This allows the farmers to instantaneously evaluate the crop health by assessing nutrition levels in indigenous food grains right in their fields.


Traditionally, assessing the nutritional quality of grains and feedstock could take a number of weeks, involving manual or partially automated processes and laboratory instruments. In contrast, mobile NIRS devices are more cost-effective and can assess over 150 samples per day.

Icrisat Director General Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes said that the tool will act as a catalyst for production of nutrient-dense crops, both in breeding programmes and in farmers’ fields. “This technology is poised to expedite the breeding of nutrient-dense crops while facilitating their integration into the value chain. Our goal with this intervention is to provide quality assurance for the distribution of nutritionally fortified crops, so that they reach those who need them most,” Hughes said.

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These non-destructive and robust grain quality measuring devices provide timely information on grain composition and can be used to promote quality-based payments in the market — benefiting food producers, grain processing industries, and farmers alike.

“We see the adoption of portable technology for assessing grain quality as an important step in decentralising and democratising market systems, essential to promote the consumption of nutri-cereals,” Sean Mayes, Global Research Director of the Accelerated Crop Improvement Program at Icrisat, said.