Mumbai-based Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence (Wadhwani AI) that develops AI-powered solutions to solve social and economic challenges has entered into a partnership with the Karnataka State Department of Agriculture (KSDA) to improve the welfare of farmers across the state.
Through this partnership, the KSDA and Wadhwani AI will explore opportunities to scale deployment of the AI-powered early pest warning and advisory solution for cotton and other crops developed by Wadhwani AI, the company said in a statement. Additionally, Wadhwani AI will work towards ensuring the AI-readiness of the KSDA, and conduct capacity building initiatives for ministry personnel on the responsible use of AI and its application to boost agriculture systems in the state, it said.
Minister for Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, BC Patil stated that AI initiatives like this will enhance agriculture systems in Karnataka and improve the income of farmers. “We intend to unlock the value of the agriculture pest and disease data at our disposal and utilise it to create novel solutions in crops like cotton, maize, chilli, and other crops in Karnataka, with the help of emerging AI-based technologies,” he said.
The company said that since its inception in 2018 , its AI-powered early pest warning and advisory system equips small-holder cotton farmers with instant advisories, in multiple languages, to enable them to combat infestation using basic Android smartphones.
“Small farmers in India depend on government programs at every step of the crop cycle. Timely, accurate, and hyperlocal AI-based early-pest warning and advisory can augment human capabilities to overcome systemic challenges in these large-scale programs,” said JP Tripathi, Associate Director – Agriculture at Wadhwani AI. He informed that The/Nudge Institute, a Bengaluru-based non-profit is facilitating the deployment of its solution in Dharwad district, and provided guidance and support towards the partnership.
Wadhwani AI is also the official AI partner of the India government’s Central Tuberculosis Division (CTD), developing and deploying AI/ML solutions to help the National TB Elimination Program (NTEP) eradicate TB from India by 2025. The institute assists the National Health Authority in leveraging AI/ML technologies to strengthen the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) and Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) initiatives.
Founded by Romesh Wadhwani and Sunil Wadhwani, Wadhwani AI has received a $1 million grant from Google.Org in December 2022 and said that it will utilise the grant towards building AI-powered solutions in the agriculture sector. These solutions will help farmers gain timely, localised, and accurate weather-related information, crop and other farm-related information. Earlier in 2019. The company received a $2 million grant from Google.Org to support its CottonAce AI-powered pest management solution, an AI-powered early warning system developed by the company available through an app on Android smartphones.
The World Economic Forum's (WEF's) ‘AI for Agriculture Innovation initiative’ is also one such initiative that is transforming the agriculture sector in India by promoting the use of AI/ML and other technologies. In August 2021, it launched the Saagu Baagu pilot in partnership with the Government of Telangana, making it the first Indian state to implement a framework for scaling up emerging technologies to improve productivity, efficiency and sustainability in the agriculture sector. In a January 2023 report, the organisation said that over 7,000 farmers are using the technology to monitor the health of their crops, perform quality control and test soil.