Agri Business

SLCM launches beta mobile app to test crop quality

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on October 14, 2021

Results will be provided within seconds, in English and local languages

New Delhi-based agri-logistics firm Sohan Lal Commodity Management Pvt Ltd (SLCM) on Wednesday launched a beta version of its quality check mobile app for agricultural commodities.

The app, claimed to be the first of its kind, can detect a commodity’s quality within seconds. Launched under SLCM’s proprietary AgriReach umbrella, the app can be downloaded free from Google Play store on mobile phones and tablet PCs.

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The app, which will track the user through GPS, will be available in English, Hindi and other regional languages. In the long term, SLCM plans to charge farmers a nominal fee to use the app.

More produce by fiscal-end

To start with, the app offers results for wheat. Users must take a photograph of the sample on the app and allow a few seconds for the results. Before the end of the current fiscal, the firm will add commodities such as rice, maize, chana (gram), soyabean and guar (cluster bean) for quality testing on the app.

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They started off with wheat since it is the largest traded commodity in the country, said Sandeep Sabharwal, SLCM Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

SLCM, which offers warehousing facilities for about 950 commodities, will provide facilities for testing the quality of a majority of foodgrains through the app during the next fiscal. “Then we will extend the facilities for vegetables and fruits,” said Sabharwal.

“Our objective is to help farmers look logically at their crop. We also want to make crop testing scientific and transparent. This app will be a game changer in the commodities trade,” he said.

Cons of labs

Currently, a laboratory test of an agricultural commodity costs ₹840. Besides, it takes 3-7 days for the complete results. It takes some 25 minutes to analyse a wheat lot to identify the presence of immature, dishevelled, weeviled and shrivelled grains besides trash.

The lab reports “are prone to errors, inconsistent, non-transparent and subjective,” said Rakesh Kumar Rana, SLCM’s Chief Business Officer (Digital Initiatives).

On the other hand, in rural areas, the commodity’s quality is determined by traders and brokers from its physical features such as colour, broken grains and presence of trash.

The results provided by the app are automatically compared with pre-fed data in the back-end system, which regularly updates itself on a real-time basis using a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) with Python programming language.

“We will also store historical data for the users’ convenience,” Sabharwal said.

80% accuracy

The app is the result of four years of extensive research, with SLCM having applied for a patent in 2018 as AgriReach QC app. It has set aside ₹25 crore to develop the app, with ₹11 crore already spent to launch the beta version.

“You can click and get a report in less than 10 seconds. Farmers and traders can get reports on the quality without any human interference,” said Rana.

According to Sabharwal, the results are agnostic of the total sample weight as they are based on the image.

Currently, the app reflects 80 per cent of the results provided by labs accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration. “We will soon achieve 95 per cent accuracy,” said the SLCM CEO, adding that more functionalities will be available, such as providing results as and when a lot is loaded onto a truck for delivery.

To a question, Sabharwal said SLCM was working with States and other government bodies to deploy its solutions, including monitoring warehouses. “We are in talks with various organisations to offer our solutions,” he said, adding that one of the objectives of the app was to change the habit of testing a commodity only physically.

“We want consistent, transparent and traceable results at BIS standards. For example, Canadian peas are graded as A, B and C and these are accepted worldwide,” he said.

Willing to adapt’

On how acceptable the app would be to farmers and traders, the SLCM CEO said there were no private warehouses seven years ago. “But today, we have many private warehousing facilities. People are willing to adapt to changes and this will be acceptable since the application of the app is with the consumer,” he said.

SLCM had about 2.5 lakh photographs of wheat samples taken to perfect its app and there were checks and balances to ensure data is not fudged.

“We plan to bring a feature of taking multiple photos or videos of trucks being loaded with a produce by clicking on a few applications. We will even have a feature to take a consolidated photo or video of a truck loaded with gunny bags of wheat or any other produce to ensure correct data and results,” Rana said.

SLCM plans to integrate buyer and seller data as the firm uses nearly 1.4 lakh trucks every month. The data will be shared, with the user’s permission, to ensure farmers get the right price, Sabharwal said.

Published on October 13, 2021

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