INDIA – Beverage giant PepsiCo, through its brand “Lay’s” has unveiled a crop & plot-level predictive intelligence model in India to help farmers maximize potato yields coupled with quality via functional dashboards on user-friendly mobile apps.

The initiative was launched in collaboration with Cropin, a leading global agri-tech company known for creating the first industry cloud for agriculture.

PepsiCo India said the initiative being implemented as a pilot project in demo farms in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh is part of PepsiCo’s ‘Precision Agriculture’ model for India.

The new initiative under the PepsiCo-owned brand “Lay’s” has the potential to address some challenges faced by farmers by using satellite imagery correlated with remote sensing data to provide insights.

The system can generate a forecast up to 10 days in advance, which can assist farmers in identifying different crop stages and close monitoring of crop health, including a disease warning system that relies on weather forecasts and historical data.

Due to a lack of means to evaluate the optimum consumption of agri-inputs like water, fertilizers, and pesticides as well as actionable weather data, farmers in India incur losses that could otherwise be avoided. 

For example, potato yield losses caused by the blight crop disease can go up to 80% if not forecasted early. Significant yield loss caused due to ground frost is another serious issue for potato farmers, especially in the northern parts of the country.

In its pilot stage, the necessary training and handholding of the farmers are being provided through field agronomists who are helping them understand the dashboard and leverage the insights. Currently, the model covers 62 farms as a trial: 51 in Gujarat and 11 in Madhya Pradesh.

Farmers, through easy-to-use smartphone-based apps, namely “Cropin Grow” for farm data management and “Plot Risk” for crop intelligence, will be able to access the dashboards and related information.

The apps can support multiple languages, and PepsiCo plans to offer the solutions in 14 regional languages in alignment with its commitment to inclusivity in the supply chain.

Built using the world’s largest crop knowledge graph, Cropin’s predictive and plot intelligence models are fine-tuned for specific crop varieties, conditions, and locations.

The Crop Intelligence Model is yet another digital innovation with the potential of being implemented at a fractional cost per acre compared to other solutions, making it affordable and scalable even for small-scale farmers.

PepsiCo India started exploring agricultural technology in 2018 with the Digitalization of agricultural operations, which were moved to SAP systems under the Smart Agro Program. The program’s main goal was to add value by increasing productivity and water safety through affordable technology.

The food company also extended its Biochar Initiative, a pilot crop residue management program, to the Fatehgarh Sahib and Ludhiana districts of Punjab as a solution to address the pressing issue of stubble burning in the state.

The initiative aims to better manage harvest residue by using furnaces known as retort kilns to produce biochar fertilizer through a process called pyrolysis.

Biochar production and usage have been reported to also have the potential to reduce GHG emissions significantly compared to other forms of disposal, such as heaping while improving soil health and water retention.

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