PepsiCo India, through its brand Lay’s, announced a crop and plot-level predictive intelligence model to help farmers maximize potato yields coupled with quality via functional dashboards on user-friendly mobile apps. Launched in collaboration with Cropin, a leading global agri-tech company known for creating the first industry cloud for agriculture, this initiative is part of PepsiCo’s ‘Precision Agriculture’ model for India and is being implemented as a pilot project in demo farms in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Most farmers in India own less than one hectare of farmland and face constant challenges 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. 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.
The new initiative under the PepsiCo-owned brand Lay’s has the potential to address these challenges 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.
In India, PepsiCo works directly and indirectly with over 27,000 farmers across 14 states, and 100% of the potatoes for its Lay’s brand are sourced from farmers within the country. In its pilot stage, the necessary training and handholding to 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.
Elaborating on the benefits of the model, Anukool Joshi, director - Agro at PepsiCo India, said, “Being an Agri company at heart, we aim to bring in sustainable, resilient, and inclusive solutions that would address the diverse issues of farmers and help them improve their livelihoods. Through our partnership with Cropin on this new initiative, our goal is to eventually roll out this solution to PepsiCo farmers across India and empower them with real-time tracking of crop health to maximize yield and quality.”
Commenting on the partnership, Krishna Kumar, co-founder, and chief executive officer, Cropin, said, "PepsiCo, through its brand Lay’s has been leading the way to enable agriculture modernization and its impact at the grassroots level. While their focus on digital transformation directly aids business growth, it also accelerates small-holder farmer empowerment, drives sustainability, and sets new standards in global farming. Using Cropin's proven plot-level predictive intelligence solution, PepsiCo is mitigating business risks and forecast crop yield and health, water stress, pest, and disease early warning signals for efficient business management."
The dashboards and related information would be accessed by the farmers through easy-to-use smartphone-based apps, namely, Cropin Grow for farm data management and Plot Risk for crop intelligence. 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.
PepsiCo in 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 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.