Exclusive Interview with Subrat Panda, CTO of AgNext Technologies

by Analytics Insight
March 29, 2022

Agriculture and technology employing advanced technologies to enhance farming and strengthen the agriculture sector are alluded to as AgriTech. Agritech advancements have boosted the global economy for the better, and they occurred at a time when the industry was experiencing many setbacks. AgNext Technologies is a leading agritechnology company that provides deep-tech-enabled solutions for food quality assessment, monitoring, and management. Analytics Insight has engaged in an exclusive interview with Subrat Panda, CTO of AgNext Technologies.

1. Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization, and the services that your company offers.

AgNext Technologies is a leading agritechnology company that provides deep-tech-enabled solutions for food quality assessment, monitoring, and management. By using AI-enabled technology for food quality testing, the company helps to eliminate delays, manual-errors and drive fairer price realization for all stakeholders in the food value chains. The company uses deep-tech like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and sophisticated data capture and analytics solutions to provide 360-degree quality assessment solutions.

By developing innovative quality assessment algorithms, AgNext has created a fully integrated full-stack platform – Qualix, for assessing food quality and enabling digital trade across nodes in supply chains. It can be used for assessing multiple food commodities such as grains, oilseeds, pulses, milk, tea, spices, among others. It allows agribusinesses access to real-time visibility of their procurement and enables QR-based traceability across the supply chain. This helps to imbue greater transparency in the food trade operations for better market linkages.

2. With what mission and objectives, the company was set up? In short, tell us about your journey since the inception of the company?

AgNext was established in 2016 at IIT-Kharagpur with the mission to ensure ‘Quality food for Billions’ by building deep-tech solutions that are tailored to market-specific needs. By doing this, we can drive the quality-based food trade by enabling instant food quality solutions. This will lead to better price realization for all agricultural stakeholders in the food value chains, thereby boosting profitability for both buyers and sellers. Since the start, the focus of the company has been to make the food trade fairer, safer, and more transparent.

AgNext got its initial funding from a-idea NAARM in 2017. After this, we raised funds from leading investors such as Omnivore and Kalaari. Last year, we raised $ 21 million from Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI), as well as existing investors, making it the highest Series A round by an Indian agritech company. In the past year, we have grown to a 150+ strong team and opened up a branch office in Gurugram. We are also aiming to expand internationally to the Middle East and other South Asian markets.

3. Brief us about the CTO of the company and his / her contributions to the company and the industry.

Dr. Subrat Panda is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of AgNext, a leading venture-backed ag-tech startup focused on digitizing and transforming food quality evaluation. He was formerly the VP of Engineering, AI, and Data Sciences at Capillary Technologies, a retail-focused SaaS firm with offices in India, China, Southeast Asia, and Europe.

Dr. Panda’s role with AgNext is to structure deep-tech models and align product lines. On its artificial intelligence (AI) enabled Qualix platform, it has been a value-add for SaaS (Software as a Service) applications. Dr. Panda uses its comprehensive experience as an AI expert to develop on-the-edge solutions for instant food quality assessment, with innovative integration of AI, ML and data analytics.

4. Tell us how your company is contributing to the IoT / AI / Big Data Analytics industry of the nation and how the company is benefiting the clients.

In the agricultural business, the potential for technological interventions is enormous to tackle the persisting legacy issues which impact the food trade. The trifecta of AI, IoT, and data analytics can be used to drive digital transformation in both pre-harvest and post-harvest agriculture spaces. AgNext is using these technologies to provide instant food quality testing, eliminate manual errors, standardize food quality, and remove testing delays. Furthermore, through our full-stack platform ‘Qualix’ we are driving data-led traceability and transparency to make the food trade more profitable for all stakeholders.

With a comprehensive commodities portfolio, we can test the quality of grains, pulses, oilseeds, spices, milk, tea, and others, in less than one minute, providing a comprehensive quality profile against multiple parameters. Since food quality testing time gets significantly reduced with digital technologies, agribusinesses can save time as well as resources, which helps to improve productivity and profitability.

5. What are some of the challenges faced by the industry today?

Agriculture contributes 16% of India’s GDP and employs 44% of the population. While there is a lot of potential for development and the reality of making Indian agriculture future-ready appears bright, there is still a long way to go until technology-driven advantages are realized. Understanding the constraints across the value chain and identifying applicable technological solutions are crucial for using technology in the Indian agriculture sector and realizing demonstrable value addition.

Despite the fact that India is an agrarian economy and a leading producer and exporter of a variety of agricultural commodities, the industry faces a number of issues, including high weather reliance, supply chain inefficiencies, dwindling resources, and low efficiency. Greater technological interventions can help tackle these challenges. It is important to develop policy and industrial frameworks to push for greater tech awareness and adoption across the food value chain.

6. Please brief us about the products / services / solutions you provide to your customers and how do they get value out of it

AgNext’s full-stack platform for evaluating food and integrating procurement across value chains is known as Qualix. We can examine the analysis of different commodities on a single platform using Qualix, making procurement and trading activities transparent and traceable. Milk, tea, cereals, oilseeds, pulses, spices, and other commodities can be inspected to offer precise information and insights. Qualix enables easy access to digital records, real-time data on food quality throughout procurement, and maintains transparency across the supply chain with rapid on-field quality assessment. Agribusinesses can enhance productivity by introducing consistency to food procurement, saving time and resources, and making the food trade more cost-effective with higher food quality accessed by advanced technologies.

7. What does your technology and business roadmap look like for the rest of the year?

We are aiming to significantly expand our commodities portfolio to penetrate newer commodity markets. Additionally, we are also aiming for increased domestic expansion, as well as building an international presence, starting from the Middle East and Vietnam.

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