technology

Cattle trade and livestock farming in India get a touch of AI, IoT

Cattle trade and livestock farming in India get a touch of AI, IoT

  • Jaipur-based cattle farmer Gabduram Meena used to travel frequently to cattle fairs, but when the pandemic struck in 2020, fairs closed and laws around animal trade became stricter
  • Meena found help on the web -- an app-based cattle marketplace from a company called MoooFarm
  • Meanwhile, in Gurugram, cattle farmer Krishan Ji is trying to use the Animall app to sell his cow
  • Several of his peers use apps to buy and sell livestock for a good price, and he has received several inquiries
  • Meena and Krishan are two of the many modern-day smartphone-savvy cattle farmers turning to web to manage livestock
  • According to Jitesh Arora, co-founder and chief technology officer of MoooFarm, the livestock management industry is a $70-80 billion opportunity, where cattle discovery and pricing pose challenges for farmers
  • This has also attracted investor interest
  • In July 2021, Animall raised $14 million (approximately Rs102
  • 62 crore) in a Series B funding
  • In January this year, MoooFarm raised $2
  • 4 million ( ₹18 crore) in seed funding
  • The government, too, has launched apps like e-Gopala in August 2020 to help farmers choose better quality livestock and improve dairy output
  • “India is among the largest milk and dairy-producing countries in the world
  • But despite its size, India’s dairy industry is still fragmented, said Anand Ramanathan, partner at Deloitte India
  • He pointed out that digital marketplaces enable farmers to verify cattle breeds, and milk production claims physically
  • For startups, technology implementation doesn’t end with building an online marketplace
  • MoooFarm verifies each cattle entry on its platform, Arora said
  • His company started with the classifieds model, where farmers could post an ad and sell cattle
  • lt has since moved to an inventory model, procuring cattle using a mix of human intervention and technology
  • Arora said MoooFarm is running a pilot for using video and image-based machine learning (ML) models to identify which cattle to buy and which to skip
  • It has been working with ML for recognizing cows before the pandemic
  • It had developed an algorithm that could use smartphone cameras to differentiate one cow from the next
  • Arora said the project was put on hold due to the pandemic, but has resumed
  • It is currently in the development phase
  • Kochi-based Brainwired has developed a livestock health monitoring and tracking system that uses Internet of Things (IoT) ear tags to track the vitals, and the estrous cycle of cattle
  • The data is then put through an ML algorithm to detect and alert farmers about illnesses and pregnancy
  • Chitale Dairy from Maharashtra is using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags to identify thousands of animals on its many farms
  • It has also moved its entire application stack to the cloud
  • It has improved access to real-time information about animals, their health, as well as milk processing plants
  • “We are using AI/ML models to optimize performance in our milk processing plant
  • The model is programmed into the plant so it can detect and alert us about any deviations from the norm, added Vishwas Chitale, CEO and CTO of Chitale Dairy
  • Bengaluru-based Hydrogreens Agri Solutions, on the other hand, employs IoT sensors to monitor temperature and humidity levels in warehouses, and regulate water and airflow to provide high-quality fodder for farmers
  • “Farmers have increased yield by 2-3 litres using green fodder, said Vasanth Madhav Kamath, founder of Hydrogreens
  • MoooFarm also uses ML for pricing cattle
  • Arora said its algorithms can tell farmers the best price for their livestock based on their location and time of the year
  • He added that the cattle trade has seen 10x revenue growth in 2021, and is a major source of revenue for MoooFarm, with a 4-5% margin per transaction
  • The startup claims to have over 1
  • 5 million users right now, even though it is focusing on only three markets — Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana
  • On the other hand, Animall claims to have reached out to more than 8 million dairy farmers and facilitated 850,000 cattle sales in the last two years
  • According to Ramanathan, the growth in this sector is a result of growing internet connectivity
  • “The farmer segment that owns 10-30 cattle is growing faster and needs access to these digital apps to improve farm management practices and quality inputs
  • Apps like these also provide online consultation with veterinarians for a fee, knowledge-sharing features among farmers, and transportation services, he added
  • MoooFarm claims it is handling 1,000 calls for veterinary services every day
  • Interestingly, despite hundreds of crores of rupees in investments, Ramanathan believes that livestock management apps are still in a nascent stage
  • He said that the adoption of such technologies is low when compared to the size of the overall cattle industry
  • He added, however, that the ease of use associated with most of these solutions and availability in local languages will help increase adoption
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technology 2022-04-07 Livemint