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NEW DELHI: The farming community in India is increasingly turning to agritech solutions after disruptions in traditional supply chains due to the covid-19 induced lockdown. Many agritech startups are helping farmers sell their produce on e-mandis.

Platforms like AgriBazaar help farmers list their produce for sale and connect directly with buyers. Many of these platforms saw a huge spike in user base during the lockdown period.

Some agritech startups are also helping farmers monitor crop and soil health using IoT sensors, while some are using AI (artificial intelligence) to forecast the best time to sow seeds.

Microsoft has announced a programme through which agritech startups can build industry-specific solutions and scale up operations using the company’s technology, business and marketing resources.

This can be huge boost for startups who may not have the resources to enhance operations and assist many more such startups to take off.

Part of Microsoft’s new program is Azure FarmBeats, a cloud-based platform built on Azure that can help startups co-create new customised solutions while focusing more on core value-adds without having to invest in deep data engineering resources.

Azure FarmBeats can also help startups acquire, aggregate and process agricultural data and rapidly develop their own AI/ML models for specific purposes.

“Sustainable agricultural technology can transform the global food landscape. Agritech startup innovations are addressing some of our key challenges connected to agriculture and food production," Sangeeta Bavi, director, Startup Ecosystem, Microsoft India said in a statement.

Another big tech company IBM has opened its weather Operations Dashboard for farmers and start-ups on a trial basis, giving them access to the entire network of roads and highways mapped on the platform.

Several agritech startups are planning to adopt the dashboard and are in conversation with The Weather Company for it.

Operations dashboard has allowed them to hyper-locate the start and end locations to a level of 500 meters and then get a better idea of the en-route weather during transport involving several days.

“It is crucial for farmers to have access to near real-time and forecasted location-specific weather and traffic views. This is so that farmers can make the right decisions on harvesting, processing, storage and supply of their produce as well as for agritech companies to manage on-ground operations which include logistics," said Himanshu Goyal, India Business Leader, The Weather Company, an IBM company.

The aim is to avoid wastage or spoilage of food at the farmer’s end due to inaccurate weather information and judgement, adds Goyal.

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