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Innovator Spotlight: AgriRain

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

AgriRain is a precision irrigation systems company which deals with hosereel irrigators. The organization was founded by Sri Malladi in 2017 to empower the farming community with modern, efficient and equitable irrigation solutions that saves water and increases productivity.

AgriRain came out with a novel and innovative “Irrigation as a Service (IaaS)” model using Hosereel irrigation technology that provides hassle free, pay per use, scalable, reliable, cost effective and on demand irrigation as a complete irrigation package.

Adoption rate of micro irrigation is minimal due to lack of financial capability and ability to understand modern technologies. Increasing adoption rate requires huge subsidies which will cost the government. In rainfed situation, erratic rainfall and prolonged dry spells lead to reduced yield and failure of crops. To mitigate the problem of dryland farmers with limited financial ability, technology and business innovation in micro irrigation is made available.

Hosereel in an automated micro-irrigation system which provides irrigation in the form of rain. It is a mobile, self-propelled raingun that is fitted on a cart and is integrated with a diesel pump and HDPE pipe. The inlet hosepipe can pump water from the existing water bodies like farm ponds, water tanks, lakes or pipelines. The technology involves that machine hauls and transits the water through a 250m long hosepipe connected to a sprinkler cart enables sprinkler to move freely and reach all around the farm. Water is split into minute droplets and is sprinkled as uniform rain. The quantum of water being used to irrigate the crop can be measured and regulated as per crop requirements from time to time. The per litre cost of irrigation is 80 paise factoring operational expenses.

The operational model includes rural entrepreneurship through social engineering. Rural youth and women

among the community are trained to be water entrepreneurs and are responsible for precision irrigation at critical stages. Moisture sensors are installed in field for measuring soil moisture content. Weather data with historical records on air temperature, humidity, precipitation and calculated evapotranspiration is collected. All this data is tracked on the state-of-the-art android app Jal Suvidha. Geo-fencing of the land parcel is done separately for each of the farmers. The mobile app populates irrigation schedules for a cluster 40-60 acres for each of the water entrepreneurs and mobile notifications are sent to respective water entrepreneurs and individual farmers in the respective irrigation clusters.

AgriRain has done intense research on adaptability of hosereel irrigation system in small farm production in India during kharif and rabi, 2017 and 2018 in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. During course of implementation, the following has been learnt:

1. No value is being accrued to water when it comes to irrigation

2. Water is being misused and abused in terms of quantity and time of application

3. Lack of quicker and cheaper of methods of irrigation

4. Usage of micro irrigation is being limited to few crops, regions and land holding sizes

During Rabi 2017-18 & 2018-19, AgriRain irrigated in Suratgarh and Sardargarh, Rajasthan and Jawalgere, Karnataka. The source of irrigation in these areas was canal system of Gaggar and Tungabadra respectively. Chickpea was sown in all these locations with one pre-sowing flood irrigation during September/October followed by one pre-flowering irrigation in December. One irrigation of 25 mm depth was given post-flowering during December and second fortnight of January. The yield data of chickpea in Rajasthan indicates that there is a yield advantage to the extent of 87.92% in Sardargarh and 19.15% in case of Suratgarh by giving irrigation using Hosereel. It was attributed that the increased yield response to chickpea in these locations were due to precision in quantity, time and uniformity in distribution of water across field and within the soil profile.

The sowing of groundnut in Anantapur was done from last week of May to the last week of July 2018

depending on monsoon rains. The crop suffered from severe moisture stress during the dry spells of varied duration from 20-40 days. There was general failure of monsoon in Anantapur and the district received 262.30 mm which is 46.40% deficit compared to average annual rainfall of 489.6 mm. The yield response to single protective irrigation through hosereel was to the extent of 52.67% compared to non-irrigated groundnut. Fifteen out of twenty farmer reported that despite 46% deficit rainfall and severe moisture stress during middle of the cropping season, they could save the crop and obtain a yield of 2.50 to 3.00 q/ha by giving a single protective irrigation (20 mm) during pre-flowering stage.

The sowing of soyabean in Mehkar, Maharashtra was done from last week of June to the last week of August 2018 depending on availability of ground water. The yield response to single protective irrigation through hosereel was to the extent of 13% compared to non-irrigated soyabean. Farmers reported that despite deficit rainfall and severe moisture stress during middle of the cropping season, they could save the crop and obtain a yield by giving a single protective irrigation (15 mm) during pre-flowering stage.

Sugarcane crop cultivated in more than 70% area of Bettiah, West Champaran, Bihar is under flood irrigation. The current setup required to irrigate sugarcane crop includes pump, flexipipe and two agricultural labours to continuously monitor the operations. 55-60% of total irrigation cost consists of diesel and it results in immersion of fields in 5 inches of water. This process is cumbersome and requires 10-12 hours to irrigate one acre of land.

AgriRain’s intervention in the region with Irrigation as a Service through Hosereel irrigator has led to precision irrigation with less use of water and labour. Hosereel can irrigate one acre of field at the rate of 20 mm in 4 hours. The cost of Hosereel irrigation is less than existing cost incurred by the farmers and is more convenient to operate. Using AgriRain’s Irrigation as a Service, 292 farmers have irrigated their sugarcane crop across 19 villages in Bihar.

AgriRain has joint-venture partnership with Idrofoglia, Italy. Idrofoglia, established in 1979 is one of the most reputed companies of irrigation technologies. Owing to fragmented and highly segregated land holdings and heterogeneity of cropping systems in the Indian sub-continent, the present generation hosereels which are large and are difficult to operate. In the year of 2016-17, AgriRain has devised and modified Idrofoglia’s hosereel to fit in the Indian context.

AgriRain has been associated with Syngenta Foundation (SF), which is a CSR initiative of Syngenta group. We both operate in the interest of rainfed and drought-prone farmers across the country. Our primary idea is to increase employment opportunities to local youth, encouraging women water entrepreneurs, water conservation, creation of community-based farmer clusters, water bodies and irrigation systems, enhancing farm productivity and farmer’s profitability. AgriRain can drought proof the farmers associated with food and agri corporates by providing Irrigation as a Service which is capex free and economical to the farmer.AgriRain with its affordable, scalable and reliable Irrigation as a service (IaaS) model provides effective utilization of CSR funds of large corporates and foundations.

AgriRain was featured in a ThinkAg event. This opportunity has allowed us to integrate our business ideas with market demand by networking with the right partners. The platform provides an opportunity for start-ups to engage with large corporates, financial institutions and funds.

Sri Malladi is the Founder and CEO of AgriRain.  Sri has been in the irrigation industry for over 9 years.

Previously as a Director of Business Development, he was involved in generating business in emerging markets. His experience in Strategy and Marketing helped navigate through the complex markets and was the first to introduce Irrigation as a Service in Rwanda and India. Prior to working in Irrigation Industry Sri has over 10 years of experience in IT Consulting, Corporate Strategy, Business Development, Business Process Improvement and managing large enterprise projects. Sri graduated with a Bachelor of Technology, Electrical Engineering from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, India, MS Physics from Alabama A&M University in Huntsville and EMBA from University of Nebraska, Omaha. He has attended various advanced management programs offered by Ivy league schools

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