According to the Agriculture Ministry of the country, farming is a 400-billion-dollar market and is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India’s population. However, the industry suffers from various issues such as:
- Small and fragmented landholding
- Lack of mechanization
- Inadequate storage facilities
- Inadequate transport
- Scarcity of capital
“The name AIBono is a combination of two essential elements- AI & Bono into a beautiful blend. AI or Artificial Intelligence is a replication of human intelligence and Bono symbolizes the innate quality of using business to do good for the growers, sellers and consumers alike” – AIBono
“The mascot of the company- BONO is a Mobius fruit. It stands for transformation through unity and balance between the seed and the plate to inspire a better future of perishable food. Bono symbolizes the ultimate promise of the future if food – the 4th Revolution” believes the company.
The Start-Up Story:
The founder, Vivek Rajkumar after completing his graduation from IIT-Madras, he decided to find his calling in the farms. He initially failed as a farmer but realized that the reason was lack of data at the sowing and the supply stage. He also realized that majority of the farmers are not aware of the consumer’s demands. And here, AIBono was conceived. Initially, to help farmers understand soil quality but soon expanded its scope to increase farm yields.
AIBono, an AI-powered fresh food aggregator, deals in high-value, highly perishable, and short-cycle crops such as- carrots, broccoli, lettuce, etc. AIBono claims to be India’s first AI-powered fresh food aggregator, pioneering as the Seed-To-Plate platform. It blends AI-powered Precision farming with real-time Demand Sync and Just in the time supply chain. The start-up basically helps in the creation of demand, minimizing wastage, maximizing freshness, availability, and traceability for retailers while giving guaranteed 2x yields.
AIBono leased its first farm in the Nilgiris in 2015, and since then, more than 40 farmers have come on board. Today, the startup suggests inputs and provides seeds to help increase the farm yields, and also buys the produce from farmers and delivers it to retailers. Currently, it is working with about 500 farmers in the Nilgiri belt of Karnataka and 500 retailers, largely based in Bengaluru. In March this year, the Bengaluru-based startup raised around $2.5 Million from Menterra Venture Advisors, Artha Ventures, Rebright Partners among other investors. Currently, it is looking to expand its service to 2K farmers and 2K small retailers in 2 more cities by 2020
AIBono is a technological company, offering a software-based assisted platform. It aims at achieving two targets- improving farm yield and farmer’s income realization.
How does AI based AIBono function?
Predicting the demand:
According to the founder, even a simple study of consumption from a retail store allows the observer to collect data and understand the rate of consumption of products and the choice of products consumed. For instance, analyzing any household’s weekly purchase gives an insight into their eating patterns. And the demands of the hotels and restaurants are quite predictable.
It is essential to control the production and release it to the shelves to meet consumer expectations.
2.1. Assessing Farms: By applying the principles of precision farming, AIBono captures more than 150 farm variables. It includes all kinds of data, compiled and collected at the beginning. This data ranges from soil check, nutrient check, field images, leaf coloration. This data is collected through the AIBono suite of software applications for different areas. The farm data is uploaded on the app. And there is predictive planting material that works with a nursery. Also, there is a harvest suite wherein the production details are shared on a day to day basis.
2.2. Leveraging the Onground Fleet: the company has an onground fleet of arouynd 30 people, that have undergone rigorous training. These agronomers carry the equipment kits as well as the data collecting sensors to collect the required data. Both, the crop experts and AI work together to make recommendations.
2.3. Sowing the Seeds: After completing the data assessment, AIBono provides seeds on the basis of consumption from the retail shelves. The farmer then divides the farm into various quadrants for the sowing season and sows a different crop in each quadrant. On the basis of AIBono Forecast, farmers sow the crops in line with appropriate feed. The crops the farmer chooses, are all short-cycle crops, which enables the farmer to spread his cash flow across multiple crops gaining a better yield and a better price
In our country, start-ups like WayCool, Fresh2Home, and others are building solutions for supply chain management. They achieve this by adopting best practices in storage, packaging, handling, transportation, etc. Thus, the post-harvest sector sees more than a 40% reduction in waste, but these are working on the farm-to-fork sector. However, AIBono focuses on the seed-to-plate segment. Their engagement with farmers right from when the seeds are sown and goes all the way until the product is purchased.
Way to go:
This platform, not just bridges the gap between the producer and the consumer, but also ensures that both are rewarded through the increased return-on-effort ratio while ensuring premium product quality at the same time.
The farmer community is a very close-knit community and nothing beats a real-world example in creating the right impression. However, the entry of Jio and all telos blitz played a key role in setting the company’s initial milestone.
Overtime. AIBono has become known as a service company not a technology company, despite its focus on data collection and application.
Read about another farming-based startup: Triton-The future of farming
Read more: Success stories of startups-FORTIFYGEN
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