Special Startup Series: Saving crop losses due to wild animal intrusions

Ghaziabad based startup, Kyari has innovated a device that protects the agricultural fields from wild animals, thereby preventing economic losses to farmers resulting from crop damages, and also minimizing any chances of harm to wildlife due to retaliatory action

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Ever wondered if there would have been a technology that could protect farmlands from animal attacks yet without any violent retaliation. That would surely help in reducing the ever-growing man-animal conflict in the agricultural zones, especially those which share a border with wildlife sanctuaries.

Ghaziabad based agri-tech startup, KYARI has developed a device that could help in avoiding the huge economic losses that farmers have to incur every year, as a result of damages to crops due to regular animal attacks.

This device, ANIDERS uses a combination of Active and Passive Infrared Sensing to sense the animal approaching the fields, and based on the traced movement and location of the animal, it triggers a light and sound alarm system of that sector. This helps the farmers to pin point the location of intrusion at night.

The idea and its translation

Incorporated in September 2017, KYARI has been founded by Abhay Sharma and Smratika Sharma. The founders have a passion for protecting animal life and helping farmers.

Being wildlife enthusiasts, Abhay and Smratika used to visit Jim Corbett National Park quite frequently. On one of such trips, they encountered a brutally injured elephant in the buffer zone of the national park. On asking around, they got to know that this elephant’s leg got trapped in an animal trap. A trap that a farmer had installed on the periphery of his farm to protect his crops from elephants.

Later that week, that elephant succumbed to his injury and died. Being animal lovers, they got furious as to why would a farmer take such an extreme step just to protect his field. They went to the farmers in an effort to educate them not to harm the wild animals, but when they told them about the crop raiding problems they faced every crop season and how they had to bear huge losses because of it. That’s when they got to know how complicated the problem was.

Abhay Sharma, co-founder, KYARI explains: “We could not blame farmers for their actions, these people were making desperate moves to protect their livelihood. Many farmers have left farming and moved to cities because they cannot sustain farming. We understood the root cause of the problem and decided to device a solution that could protect the crops from wild animal intrusion while ensuring the safety of wild animals. That is how the idea of ANIDERS was born.”

Abhay Sharma with the device.

The company found help from Pusa Krishi Incubator in providing it with the right ecosystem to work in. “It gave us insights about the business, helped us meet with experienced people working in the industry, got the right platform to showcase our product. What more can a startup ask for,” says Abhay.

How does the technology work?

Existing methods like electric fences are no longer efficient in solving such conflicts, so we decided to come up with a smarter solution that could protect the crops from animal intrusions without causing any harm to the wildlife.

This led to the invention of ANIDERS (Animal Intrusion Detection and Repellent System), a device that works like a Mechanised Scarecrow. It detects the animals that intrude the fields and scares them away before they can cause any harm to the crops.

ANIDERS uses the combination of Active and Passive Infrared sensors to detect the animal movements and then uses light and alarm system to repel them. Features such as Solar Powered, Auto ON/OFF, Multiple Sound and Light Patterns and Real-time Communication via GSM makes it even more effective and a greener technology.

Results obtained after rigorous testing done by WWF India stated that the device successfully repelled the animals 86 percent of the times, which in turn resulted in 60 percent increase in crop yield.

Challenges remain

The challenge faced by the company is that it is a product for the masses, and should be produced in large numbers. The company thus requires huge investment to start the production at large scale.

Abhay expects the government agencies to give the startup an opportunity to prove itself. “We need right networks to be able to reach farmers across India. To be able to get this revolutionary product to the local markets, we need government’s support. The scale at which we want to produce ANIDERS can be achieved only when Forest Departments across India support us and agree to buy the device from us”.

The company is trying to develop much more advanced versions of ANIDERS equipped with artificial intelligence. Talking about the same, Abhay mentions, “We want ANIDERS to recognize the approaching animal and trigger an alarm suited for that species. Also, we are working on making a mesh network of all the devices installed in an area, so that every device can communicate with each other and help prevent and locate intrusions more efficiently.”

Way forward

Currently, the device is ready and is in the market. The renowned NGOs like WWF India and Institutes like WII have bought the device and are testing it pan India. While the basic model is priced at Rs 10,000/- which is still not affordable for small scale farmers, the company intends to bring down the cost needs funding boost to produce the device on a larger scale.

As per KYARI founders, the total Farmers in India stand at approximately 26.3 crore and nearly 1/10th of report intrusion in their farms out of which 1/10th of farmers can afford the device in its current form. While the average land per farmer is 2.5 acre, devices required per farm are 3 in number. The potential units to be sold are 67,85,400 in a market size Rs 3500 crore. As per Abhay, these figures are very conservative.

The company wishes to target farmers facing crop raiding issues; NGOs working in the segment of Wildlife conservation, agriculture, human-wildlife conflict, and farmer welfare, and the government departments of agriculture, railways, and highways.

“In 5 years, we want to see ANIDERS installed in every farmland across India. We want to ensure no animal is dying of electrocution because of electric fences around farmlands. In future, we see ANIDERS helping secure not only farmlands, but also railway tracks and highways,” says Abhay.

KYARI has already worked with WWF India, WII (Wildlife Institute of India) and CISCO. It now aims to expand its product basket to find more such tech solutions in agriculture and wildlife space.