Punjab's Agri Export Corporation is using Al for improving the quality of seed potatoes

By KTP Radhika

Highlights

The AI-powered technology helps in curbing the sale of counterfeit, low-quality seeds and improving the quality of potato seeds.

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Potato is one of the most popular non-grain food crops that is widely cultivated globally. About 5,000 varieties of potatoes are being cultivated around the world. The quality of the potato and its nutritional value highly depends on the quality of seed potatoes that are used to cultivate them.  

Punjab is known for its high-quality seed potatoes. Punjab produces 27 lakh metric tonnes of potatoes every year. The state also provides to nearly 70 per cent of the entire seed potato demand in the Indian market including the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka.

That said, only less than one per cent of all seed potatoes produced in Punjab are currently certified by the Punjab Seed Certification Authority. This makes it extremely difficult for potato growers to differentiate original seeds from counterfeit ones. The spurious potatoes sold in the name of Punjab-grown seed potato severely impact the credibility and the brand value of the seeds. To solve this, and to expand the certification process the Punjab Agri Export Corporation (Pagrexco) decided to leverage AI-based solutions for Seed Potato Traceability.

Intelligent tracing 

Last year, Pagrexco partnered with Bengaluru based CropIn to enable the traceability of Potato seeds in the entire value chain. “Our advanced farm data management solution was used to capture several parameters through every stage of production and monitor them systematically to produce superior quality seed potatoes,” says Jitesh Shah, Chief Revenue Officer, CropIn.

The Pagrexco field teams configured the best solutions of practices for each seed variety on CropIn’s platform and also received real-time intelligence reports about local weather, crop growth, crop health, potential pest infestations, and crop diseases. This helped seed-potato growers in Punjab to cultivate superior quality seeds and improve their efficiency. “The solution facilitated two-way communication between Pagrexco and farmers, allowing managers to share important plans, advisories, and instruction videos, and facilitating for farmers to have instant access to the Pagrexco team,” explains Shah. 

Capturing farm data at critical points established end-to-end traceability to the life cycle of seeds. Following tests for quality assurance and certification by Pagrexco, unique QR codes are printed on each of the seed potato packets during the packaging and warehousing process. This enabled buyers to trace the origin of the seed potatoes and determine exactly where the seeds are coming from, how the seed potatoes were cultivated, and whether they are Pagrexco certified or not.

“This traceability feature plays a vital role in curbing the sale of counterfeit, low-quality seeds under the name of Punjab-grown seed potatoes. It will also prevent the mixing of high-quality certified seeds with sub-par ones that result in low yields and poor ROI for potato growers,” says Shah. While on the one hand, it boosts credibility for Pagrexco’s brand name and consequently promotes farmers’ trust in its products, it also enables farmers registered with Pagrexco to fetch a premium price for their certified seeds on the other.

Enhance traceability  

The QR codes on the seed packets ensure the buyers. The code guarantees that they are buying high-quality seeds from the right producers, and not counterfeit, low-quality seeds falsely sold under the name of Punjab-grown potato seeds. The code also prevents the mixing of high-quality certified seeds with poor quality ones.

“Farmers registered under this platform also received timely reminders and alerts for critical field activities, periodic weather alerts, prompt pest, and disease alert resolution, and active on-field support from Pagrexco extension team,” says Shah. “ The Seed Potato Traceability is the first phase of AI-based solution implementation. In the next phase, they are planning to implement the solution to the organic lines of products like wheat flour, basmati, turmeric, jaggery, honey and dahlia,” he concludes.

About the author

KTP Radhika

KTP Radhika writes on business and technology. She has worked with Network 18 Group, The Indian Express Group and Deccan Chronicle. Currently, she is a consultant writer with Business Today and NASSCOM. Her work was shortlisted for the Shriram Awards for the year 2019.

Image by Christos Giakkas from Pixabay 

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