SLCM (Sohan Lal Commodity Management) Pvt Ltd has created a mobile app that can quickly check several quality characteristics of agricultural commodities, and it is expected to be released by the end of the month.
‘For India, this will be a game-changer and defining moment. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are used to power the app (ML). Sandeep Sabharwal, the SLCM group’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said, ‘It is the outcome of almost four years of research carried out by us.’
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The company registered for a patent for the app in 2018. It will be accessible for download on smartphones and tablets towards the end of the month.
Free & subscription model
‘At first, the software will be provided at no cost. Sabharwal told that it would then be subscription-based.
In comparison to lab tests, the app will verify numerous quality criteria in a variety of food grains and pulses, as well as guar, in a fraction of the time. The app’s results will be automatically compared with pre-fed data in the firm’s back-end system, which will update itself in real-time using machine learning, according to the SLCM CEO.
‘To create the app’s quality application for food grains and pulses, we received a technical assistance grant of €125,901 (₹1.111 crores) from the Technical Assistance Facility of Incofin agRIF fund and the Smallholder Safety Net Upscaling Programme (SSNUP) in Europe,’ Sabharwal added.
The software has an advantage over traditional quality labs or some of the new systems that are on the way to help produce quality reports more rapidly in that it does not require any setup, manpower, or electricity to scan the commodity.
‘The mobile phone is a device that operates independently of any mobile network. It will be part of our AgriReach program, which is an aggregator-based scientific warehousing strategy that can store any crop regardless of infrastructure, location, weather, or geography, according to Sabharwal.
He claims that once the app is launched, its use on the ground will help to improve agricultural commodity quality checks and communicate the instantaneously obtained quality control results in a secure and transparent environment.
Sabharwal and four others launched SLCM in 2009 with a meager investment of ₹ 6 lakh. For decades, its ‘grandparenting firm’ was involved in pulse milling. The SLCM CEO explained, ‘We realized that agricultural management services were weak, with only a handful of millers and arthiyas (commission brokers) having infrastructure such as warehouses.’
People were unaware of what crop was cultivated, when, and where because the country had multiple crops and seasons. ‘Neither were they underpinned by sufficient financial storage infrastructure,’ he added.
As a result, the company chose an algorithm-based software called AgriReach. The SLCM CEO explained, ‘It is our exclusive method for which we have sought a patent,’ adding that AgriReach helps reduce post-harvest losses through smart infrastructure management.
‘To provide updates on which crops can be stored, where, and when, the software combines a variety of processes, audits, and real-time tracking of facilities. To prevent thefts or pilferage, it employs tactics such as geo-fencing, real-time tracking, bar-coded storage receipts, and internal audits with a maker and checker policy at each level of operation,’ Sabharwal explained.
Since April of this year, SLCM has been using another proprietary technology called ‘AgriSuraksha,’ which is an internet-based surveillance system that allows for real-time storage warehouse monitoring. He explained, ‘This includes satellite communication in situations where there are no suitable power connections or lights.’
SLCM is using AgriSuraksha to track 200 warehouse facilities as of August 2021. By the end of the current fiscal year, it will have covered 80 percent of its warehouses.
SLCM has made a significant change in agricultural financing, according to Sabharwal, by using ‘crop as collateral.’ It bought a Chennai-based non-banking finance company (NBFC) and renamed it Kissandhan for this reason.
‘Our NBFC lends to farmers using their crops as collateral. Until August 31, we have sponsored 5.02 lakh farmers with disbursements totaling ₹ 2,24.33 crore,’ he said.
SLCM, situated in New Delhi, now has 7,157 locations around the country, totaling 102.54 million sq ft of storage space, including cold storage. It has a total capacity of 1.75 billion tonnes. ‘In India, we handle 959 commodities. We incorporate different kinds inside a crop by 959 commodities,’ he explained.
In Myanmar, the company also runs a network of 255 industrial zones, handles 525 commodities, has 6.91 million square feet of storage space, and has handled 11.64 million tonnes of agricultural goods.
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‘We have improved the lives of over 3.86 crore individuals, in addition to another 19.34 crore. Every month, we run 10,000 trucks across our networks in India and Myanmar, transporting 7.5 million tonnes of agricultural commodities and other goods,’ Sabharwal noted.
‘Our staff moved necessary items throughout the country to ensure timely delivery even during the Covid-19 shutdown,’ he stated.