Interviews

Precision Agriculture more Affordable & Accessible to India: Rajan Aiyer, MD, Trimble, SAARC

Mr. Rajan Aiyer is the Managing Director for Trimble, SAARC region. He is responsible for Trimble operations in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka and under his leadership Trimble has seen exponential growth with revenues in SAARC region quadrupling in the last five years. Prior to Trimble, Rajan headed his own start-up company in Silicon Valley, California for more than four years. He has held increasingly responsible positions in R&D, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service in various Boston and Silicon Valley hi-tech companies. 

He brings 24+ years of industry experience in IT, Telecom, and Data communication fields and holds over a dozen key patents in key areas of high-speed networking and communications. He’s an active member of American Chamber of Commerce, IMA CEO Forum, IIT Alumni Association, Harvard Business School Alumni Association and is a founding member and Senior VP of Association of Geospatial Industries. 

Mr. Aiyer holds B. Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, M.S. from the University of Texas, Austin, USA and General Management Program from Harvard Business School. 

Mr. Aiyer held an interaction with the Krishi Jagran Team. 

Q. As you are in-charge of SAARC region, what type of machinery, product or services are you supplying to the farmers? 

Ans. As the global leader in Precision Agriculture, Trimble offers an industry-leading portfolio of cutting-edge technology solutions for farmers. We have solutions that cover the entire agriculture lifecycle: from land management/preparation to auto-guidance of farm equipment to water and nutrients management, harvesting and yield monitoring systems.  

In India, we offer two key products for water and nutrient management, Trimble Laser Land Leveller and Green Seeker Handheld device that help Indian farmers reduce groundwater and fertilizer usage and increase their crop productivity. 

Trimble’s Laser Land Leveller is a high-precision laser-based land levelling system that helps farmers level their farmland in order to prevent wastage of water. According to experiments conducted at S.V. Patel Agricultural University, Meerut, the use of Laser Land Leveller resulted in a higher yield of rice and sugarcane by 7-8% and 12-13% respectively. The tool also resulted in water savings of 20-30%. Further, the use of Laser Land Leveller also reduced time required to level land and saved fuel consumption of tractors by up to 24%. 

Trimble’s Green Seeker Handheld is an optical crop sensing device that is used to measure and quantify the health of a crop. Readings taken with the device can be used to make objective decisions regarding the amount of fertilizer to be applied to a crop. This leads to more efficient use of fertilizers, which benefits the farmers as well as the soil and water ecosystem. As of today, Green Seeker handheld is primarily used by agriculture scientists in India. 

Q. What are the other machinery that Trimble is manufacturing apart from the Laser Land Leveller? Any government subsidy on the machinery developed by Trimble?  

Ans. Besides the Laser Land Leveller, Trimble’s global Precision Agriculture portfolio includes products like GNSS-guided automated or assisted steering systems for tractors, precision laser-based grade control systems, yield monitoring systems and nutrient management systems for precision planting, sowing, variable-rate spraying and strip tilling operations. Trimble Weed Seeker spot spray system is a handheld device that senses if a weed is present and signals a spray nozzle to deliver a precise amount of chemical — spraying only the weed and not the bare ground. Also, Trimble Green Seeker Handheld can be used to make better nutrient management decisions on the farmland. In addition, we also offer a range of positioning and display solutions for different applications in agriculture. These products are manufactured around the world.  

Apart from hardware, Trimble also offers advanced software and big-data analytics-based solutions like Soil Information System, which uses advanced sensors and intelligent targeting and geo-processing algorithms to produce high resolution, accurate soil and topographic information. 

Various state governments encourage the adoption of the Laser Land Leveller and offer subsidies to farmers for purchasing them. These subsidies vary from state to state and can range from Rs. 40,000 per unit and go up to 74 per cent of the total cost of the unit.  

Q. Is there any difference between the product and machinery for India, SAARC countries and the rest of the world? 

Ans. All Trimble Precision Agriculture products leverage Trimble’s unmatched leadership in positioning and communication technologies combined with precision sensing & actuation. Still, there is some level of customisation or localisation necessary for the unique farming environment of different countries. India, for example, has a large number of small-sized farms compared to many other countries where farms of 100 acres or even 1,000 acres size are the norm. As a result, our products have been localised to better serve the Indian farm conditions; while still delivering the same quality that has made Trimble the global leader in Precision Agriculture. Additionally, innovative business models such as pay-per-use are being explored along with our local partners. 

Q. Any CSR activity of Trimble for the benefit of the farming community, especially for farmers  

Ans. Trimble, through its partners, undertakes a range of CSR activities for the benefit of farmers. These activities include free service camps, technology demonstrations and trials. We are committed to working with Indian farmers to make precision agriculture work for them. We, therefore, seek to provide education and training from our experience in this space. 

Q. What are the other areas in which Trimble is planning to enter for the benefit of farmers, in view of PM’s Mission of doubling the farmer’s income?  

Ans. We believe the application of Precision Agriculture can significantly boost crop productivity and reduce water and input wastage, in turn increasing farmers’ incomes. We, therefore, remain committed to making Precision Agriculture more affordable and accessible to India, as our contribution towards realising the government’s mission of doubling farmers’ incomes.   

We are pursuing a three-pronged strategy to increase the adoption of Precision Agriculture in India. First, we are in discussions with tractor Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to bring precision auto-steer and auto-guidance technologies to Indian farmers. Second, we are actively exploring rental and pay-per-use models with select in-country partners for our precision agriculture tools. These innovative business models make it much more affordable for Indian farmers who typically have small farm holdings (less than 2 Hectares) and are unable to make capital investments in cutting-edge Precision Agriculture technologies. Third, we are also looking to expand our distribution of laser-levelling solutions to cover all major Indian states by 2020. Currently, Trimble has a presence in five states across the country, including Punjab, Haryana, Western UP, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.  

Chander Mohan
Sr. VP Special Initiatives, Krishi Jagran
Mob: 9891334429
Email: cmohan@krishijagran.com


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