Agri-tech startup Fyllo is successfully addressing challenges faced by farmers through the deployment of IoT devices collecting real-time farm data
The agri-tech market is flooded with IoT devices offering real-time data analytics to enhance crop yield and quality. Still, Bengaluru-based startup Fyllo has achieved a remarkable feat by onboarding more than 7000 farmers and deploying 6000 devices across 13 states in India for 22 crops.
Fyllo, meaning leaf in Greek, was founded in 2019 by two engineers, Sudhanshu Rai and Sumit Sheoran, who aspired to be entrepreneurs in a business they thoroughly understood, taking them back to their agricultural roots.
“By analysing approximately eight million queries through Kisan Centres across India, we found that farmers consistently sought advice on various aspects, from crop choices to fertiliser application and weather conditions. A significant number of queries came from grape farmers in Nashik, Maharashtra. This became our starting point, and after presenting our solution to farmers and receiving positive feedback, we officially began in April 2019,” Rai says.
The duo developed two precision farming IoT-enabled devices to generate crop-specific advice for farmers: Nero and Kairo. The two devices can be installed in the farms to provide farmers with access to real-time farm data, insights, and analytics through a mobile application. Kairo has eleven sensors that collect data on rainfall, wind, temperature, and more, sending real-time information every 20 minutes. It has a solar panel retrofitted for supplying energy.
“Initially, we bought the panel for ₹1000, but now, due to bulk orders, we are getting them for ₹700-₹800,” says Sheoran.
Nero features three sensors for soil moisture at different root zones and soil temperatures, aiding in precise irrigation and fertigation for crops. It comes with a battery that lasts for nine to ten months. To get a crop-specific fertigation schedule, farmers need to upload a petiole test or soil report in the Fyllo app. All the recorded data is saved on the cloud server, year by year, so farmers can access it whenever required.
“Initially using 2G technology, we now utilise 4G across various mobile networks, including Airtel and Jio, depending on the location. The data is sent through the mobile network to our cloud server,” explains Rai.
The startup claims to help farmers get A-grade quality produce with a 20% increase in yield, 90% export quality produce, and a 25% decrease in resources used.
Kairo is priced at ₹45,000, while Nero costs ₹16,000. Both devices are self-installable, wireless, and come with a two-year warranty and a sensor lifespan of five years. Rai says that mid-income farmers recover their investments within the first year of installing the product.
Initially, the early adopters of the technology were primarily large farmers. “Currently, the adoption of this technology is not restricted to large-scale operations; it is accessible to farmers involved in mid- to high-income crops such as apples, kinnows, chillies, grapes, guavas, bananas, pomegranates, sugarcane, and cotton, among others,” adds Rai.
The startup has partnered with an electronics contract manufacturer based in Gurgaon, who has additional facilities in Bengaluru and other locations. “We manufacture most sensors, such as leaf thickness, air temperature, humidity, and soil temperature in our partner factory in Gurgaon, India. The only sensor we currently import is soil moisture,” says Sheoran.
Initially, Fyllo directly collaborated with exporters and contract farmers, but since 2021, it has established regular retail and distribution channels. “The government approached us for smart farming projects, offering support of ₹2.3 million to ₹2.5 million. We secured three rounds of funding, with the first round led by 100X.VC and subsequent rounds by Indian Angel Network. Notably, we raised around ₹127 million in 2022 from Ninjacart, Dhanuka, and previous investors,” informs Rai.
The startup has deployed 40 devices globally in Spain, France, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey through B2B partnership trials. “In France, we’ve partnered with TeraView, and in Turkey, we’ve joined forces with a company. There’s a trial partnership with a company in South Africa, where we’re providing services to a large network of growers from Gujarat,” adds Rai.
The startup’s immediate focus lies on bringing down the cost of the devices to ensure wider adoption in the market and expanding their advisory services network. To tackle income volatility, Rai revealed the startup’s plans to introduce crop insurance at the farm level. “Leveraging farm and real-time device data, we aim to collaborate with insurance companies, enabling them to assess and refine their insurance methodologies and develop improved products tailored to farmers’ needs at the farm level,” he explains.