One cow does not look very different from another. This opens up opportunities for insurance fraud in rural areas, and leads to cattle menace in cities, with no way of readily identifying the true owners of the animals that are left to roam free.

But this is set to change, with use of facial-recognition technology for cattle .

Agri-tech start-up MoooFarm has launched a solution for facial recognition of cattle that has won a $30,000 prize from a World Bank group entity in the Data Analytics category.

The technology is expected to reduce, if not end, frauds in cattle insurance and identify the true owners of stray cattle.

According to a study by the Institute for Financial Research and Management, up to 80 per cent of cattle insurance claims are fraudulent.

While currently ear-tags are used to connect the cattle with the owner, MoooFarm uses the facial recognition technology.

High accuracy

“Using this technology, MoooFarm has tested the facial-recognition model with 95.7 per cent accuracy. We are aiming at achieving 100 per cent accuracy in six months. With such accuracy levels, our software will eliminate fraud,” Param Preet Singh, MoooFarm’s co-founder, told BusinessLine .

Through its app, MoooFarm collects geography-specific data for each farm and cattlehead with details of breed, yield, critical events such as successful calving and heat symptoms, as also concurrence of a disease and antibiotics given. By leveraging data analytics, it identifies unique patterns and assists in predicting each cattlehead’s mortality rate.

This record is compared with other cattleheads of the same breed to allow for accurate valuation of its market price, giving a true basis for calculating the sum assured and premium, which will encourage farmers to insure their cattle.

Low insurance rates

According to the latest census, India has over 30 crore milch cattle. “But,” Singh says, “the number of cattle insured in the country is less than 9 per cent. The cost of cattle insurance is 4 per cent of the cattle value. Of this cost, the government foots 50 per cent. However, in terms of volume, cattle insurance accounts for a meagre 1 per cent of insurance companies’ incomes. That doesn’t justify the high cost of entering the rural livestock market.

“However, using our technology and app, if cattle insurance spreads in the country, benefiting both the farmer and the insurance companies, the latter may take a re-look at this 4 per cent figure, going forward.”

MoooFarm, which provides last-mile connectivity solutions to small dairy farmers, said that in the coming weeks, this technology will reach far-flung small-holder farmers via its mobile app and network of village-level entrepreneurs.

Innovation contest

The World Bank group’s Global Index Insurance Facility had hosted the Agriculture Insuretech Innovation Challenge in association with Sankalp Forum, an initiative of Intellecap Advisory Services. A total of 106 applications from 16 countries were received; 21 finalists presented their innovative business propositions.

On the use of the prize money, Singh said: “MoooFarm plans to use it to develop more such technologies to disrupt the dairy industry and bring about a white tech revolution in India.”