Punjab-based AgNext Technologies, an agri-tech start-up, has installed an unique quality assessment system “Qualix”, which will rapidly test the curcumin content in turmeric, at the Agricultural Market Committee (AMC) in Nizamabad, Telangana.
“Qualix will calculate the percentage of curcumin in turmeric within 60 seconds compared to the lengthy testing procedures by laboratories that take 2-3 days. Thus, our platform will be part of the larger game on incentivising farmers quickly for the quality of their produce,” said Taranjeet Singh Bhamra, Founder and CEO of AgNext Technologies.
Farmers are keen to know how much additional money they can earn and even if there is a 10-20 per cent increment in the prices they get for their produce, it will make a massive impact, Bhamra said, adding that currently, farmers do not get the payment based on the quality of the produce they bring to the market.
The Spices Board and Kolkata-based ITC Ltd have partnered with AgNext Technologies in putting up the Qualix platform.
“Our system not only helps to ascertain the quality of turmeric, but also saves time and resources, thus benefiting all stakeholders — growers, traders, exports, among others — in the food value chain,” the AgNext founder said.
The platform has received “rave reviews” from the Spices Board, traders and farmers for the quick turnaround period in testing. “So far 250-270 traders and about 2,000 farmers have made use of this. All of them are happy with the results,” Bhamra said.
AI, spectra tech
The Qualix platform is based on artificial intelligence and digital technology. It uses the spectra technology using light reflection that is quickly scanned to get details on the content in the turmeric that is brought or offered for sale.
“Farmers are charged on a per test basis and it costs them ₹142 per scan compared with ₹400-500 they had to spend earlier for the test that took days,” the AgNext founder said.
The Qualix platform has not come up easily or early, Bhamra said. “We tested our platform across multiple places and were able to master it only after 2-½ years. We tested hundreds of samples to perfect our product,” he said.
The Qualix platform that has a MRI-like scanner has 98 per cent accuracy compared with 95 per cent of the accuracy attained by the labs. “During peak season, it can benefit at least 3,000 farmers a month at Nizamabad AMC alone,” the AgNext founder said.
The success at Nizamabad has spurred the Punjab startup firm to expand the platform to 15 more AMCs in the district. “We have demand from turmeric growing centres such as Nanded (Maharashtra), Nagaland and Mizoram to deploy our solutions,” Bhamra said.
AgNext Technologies will next take the platform to Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, where turmeric is grown on a large scale. With the Spices Board convinced about Qualix, AgNext will now come up with similar solutions for chilli, pepper, coriander and ginger by next year.
AgNext Technologies, which has got a large exposure in milk and foodgrain sectors, can also help to prepare a quality map of such produce through its platform. At a later stage, this will help the trade and farmers know about quality of the produce and various agricultural practices followed in a region to attain the quality.