Long Read: Software, Productivity and Food Security – An interview with Sachin and Giles from Kisan Hub

As sponsors of the Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards AgriTech of the Year Award, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the finalists.  In advance of the Awards ceremony on the 1st November 2018, we showcased a bit more about the four finalists as exciting members of the Cambridge AgriTech cluster.

We caught up with Dr Sachin Shende, CEO and Giles Barker, COO, co-founders of Kisan Hub, who were “Highly Commended” by the Judges to find out more about their software platform.

All about KisanHub

Dr Sachin Sende and Giles Barker in front of door at number 10 Downing Street, LondonSachin holds a Ph.D. in Computational Hydraulics from Loughborough University, and prior to founding KisanHub in 2012, managed the development of bond trading and research analytics platform for Barclays Global Investors and BlackRock. Having come from an agricultural background in India, the knowledge Sachin gained about data exchange in his early career made him realise there was an opportunity to develop the way data is used within the agricultural sector.

Giles graduated from the Henley Business School University of Reading in 2013. Combining his agricultural knowledge from a family background in farming, with his passion for business development, Giles and Sachin realised they could bring a great set of skills together. Having met through a Cambridge University Judge business school programme, KisanHub was founded in 2012.

KisanHub is a complete software solution for agri-food businesses. KisanHub’s Crop Intelligence Platform allows users to manage their crop supply chain and field trials effectively.

The platform covers all three aspects of the crop production on one single platform:

  1. Field trials – Collect, standardise and analyse phenotypic data from field trials. Break down data silos and help collaborative data sharing across trials teams. Seamlessly integrate aerial images, sensor, weather data with field assessments and trial diaries.
  2. On-farm and agronomy – Provide Enterprise-Farmer connectivity, enable two-way data flow, digitise farm records, help farmers and agronomists take informed decisions by bringing in farm, crop, satellite, weather, sensor, machinery data in one place. Allow contracted farmers to share crop monitoring and field inventory with their enterprises.
  3. Supply chain management – Supply demand planning, traceability, load and contract management.

Scale-up Challenges and Opportunities

As a more established start-up, that is looking to have global impact, we asked what KisanHub thought the biggest challenges and opportunities were to global scale up of AgriTech.

Food and agriculture is a major segment of the world economy, and as the world population grows this is only going to become bigger. The sector is beginning to get big buy-in from some huge companies, with companies such as Microsoft delving into the world of ag-tech and data. This presents a massive opportunity for a company like KisanHub as we are providing a platform that is horizontally and vertically scaleable. There are so many different apps that are at a grower’s fingertips now, but to manage a farm effectively, these all need to be streamlined into one accessible platform. As a SaaS company, one of KisanHub’s strengths is that we employ a dedicated customer success team. This is where several software companies lose out, because they have the software, but not necessarily the infrastructure behind it to ensure that their users are getting maximum value, and therefore ultimately ensuring the company is getting maximum retention.

In terms of challenges, an average farmer’s life contains just 40 growing seasons – meaning the stakes are quite high in terms of getting it right. It is so important to understand the industry, the supply chains and processes involved.

Productivity

In the UK, the government’s Industrial Strategy highlights AgriTech as a key way to meet productivity targets in the future.  We asked how KisanHub’s technology helps improve productivity.

A cloud-based enterprise platform for growers, KisanHub Enterprise Platform is built to provide connectivity between enterprises and farmers. This is done by enabling two-way data flow, digitising farm records, helping farmers and agronomists take informed decisions by bringing in farm, crop, satellite, weather, sensor, machinery data in one place. It allows contracted farmers to share crop monitoring and field information with their enterprises and therefore bringing visibility to the supply chain.

Global Food Security

At SmithsonHill, improving global food security is a key driver for us – we asked Duncan what he thought is the single most important thing to improve global food security.

The most important thing we can do is to improve the use of data for decision making and ultimately drive efficiencies within farming and the supply chain. KisanHub was created out of a desire to fix these issues and provide a platform for doing so. By 2050, our global population will grow by more than 2 billion, which will require 70 percent more food. In addition to rising demand from consumers, companies are facing questions on the environmental impacts across their value chains. While improvements in processing and packaging are helping producer groups progress on sustainability, interventions at farm level are essential for driving real change. This is where the collection and use of data can make a huge difference in helping to reduce chemicals, fertilisers, fuel and waters all used within crop production.

Agricultural Revolution

At SmithsonHill, we see AgriTech as the beginning of the next agricultural revolution – we asked if KisanHub thought one was needed.

 KisanHub recently attended the World AgriTech Innovation Summit in London. What the team came away with at the end of the two days was a huge sense of excitement and anticipation in terms of what is on the horizon for AgriTech. With the impact on farming that Brexit is sure to have, from individual farmers right up to large producer groups, the emphasis is going to be on productivity and efficiencies. The next two years are going to be big for the agricultural sector, and as a crop intelligence platform, KisanHub are looking forward to helping people face challenges that may come along, and provide them with software solutions to overcome the issues.

We will definitely be watching KisanHub’s progress and look forward to seeing how their software solutions can help farmers across the globe.