Now, an AI solution to ensure tea quality

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on October 27, 2020

Agri-tech start-up AgNext has deployed “TRAGNEXT – a first of its kind AI (artificial intelligence) based fine leaf count solution across the tea growing areas of North-East India.

The deployment would help improve tea quality, suggest fair pricing for the small tea growers (STG) and industry alike and accelerate India again as a global leader in quality tea suitable for global markets and exports.

In 2018, AgNext partnered with the Tea Research Association (TRA) to accelerate the implementation of data driven technology TRAGNEXT in the tea industry. The vision was to eradicate the traditional human-led manual methods of checking tea quality that lacks visibility and authenticity of the assessments, resulting in improper pricing to the farmers. “TRAGNEXT is the first of its kind solution that automatically determines the fine leaf count without human intervention, removing subjectivity, reducing the process to seconds and improving overall accuracy,” said a press statement issued by the company.

The initial deployments have been done in tea estates of Goodricke, Rossell Tea and Bokahola Tea. The Tea Board has installed two machines in West Bengal and one in Assam. Since the demand was good, TRAGNEXT has now been deployed in CISTA, hub of STGs at Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal.

With its computer vision based technology, TRAGNEXT can count a sample of one kg of tea and give the percentage of FLC (Fine Leaf Count) & coarse leaf within two minutes, giving accurate results, proper incentivisation of the farmers and curbing yield loss for buyers.

It also determines the surface moisture of the leaves which also plays a crucial role in quality procurement. The hardware device dries up the leaves to remove the surface moisture, separates the leaves on the conveyor belt and computer vision counts the FLC to give accurate results.

“The tea industry is at the cusp of transforming itself and it would be facilitated by unlocking AI and data-driven technologies,” said Taranjeet Singh Bhamra, CEO, AgNext.

Focus on quality

There has been a steady increase in the share of STG in overall tea production in the country currently accounting for more than 50 per cent of the country’s total production.

There are 2.5 lakh STG across 11 States. Sri Lanka and Kenya depend heavily on small holders for tea exports, for which quality is a key factor. Indian small growers, despite close to 50 per cent share in tea production, are just not in reckoning when exports are considered due to quality of tea, the release pointed out.

“With the technological advancements, we aim to take the quality produce of STGs to international export markets,” Bijoy Gopal Chakroborty, President, CISTA, said.

Published on October 27, 2020

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