Among the many problems in Indian agriculture is the absence of quality standards in the farm-to-fork food chain. The lack of standards means farmers have no incentive to innovative and produce qualitatively better food. It also takes away from the consumer the option of buying better. Even globally, determining the quality of farm produce is a largely subjective exercise, often involving conjecture. Usually, farm commodities are put though physical parameter tests using touch-and-feel, visual appeal, smell and taste. As a result, the ability of farmers who grow higher quality, or pesticide and chemical-free produce, to command a premium is rather limited.

AgNext, a Chandigarh-based agritech start-up, could well be among the first in the world to crack this conundrum in a manner that is scalable even in a vast and diverse agri commodities market such as India. Using computer vision (a field of engineering that deals with computers analysing information using digital images and videos), spectral analytics, internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence, AgNext’s devices and technology platform can analyse produce quality from milk to grains to tea in about 30 seconds. It is like an MRI scanner for food.

TR Vivek speaks to Taranjeet Singh Bhamra, the 42-year old founder of Agnext. Taranjeet is an IIM Calcutta and IIT-Kharagpur alum who chucked up a career in consulting and investment banking in 2015 to pursue his ambition of starting a business that could help Indian farmers.