Ramanjaneyulu GV seethes with disdain remembering the times agricultural technology start-ups pitched to him over the past eight years. On offer was the full rainbow of services: market solutions and weather predictions for higher agricultural yield, better quality produce, more profits. Everything that, in theory, should be welcome.

“My opposition was not to the technology – my opposition was to the approach,” said the agricultural scientist who heads the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, a Hyderabad institute that teaches organic farming to cooperatives of 25,000 farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra.

What irked Ramanjaneyulu was the start-ups’ appetite for data. “They see that a major area of new control is in data,” he said. Ramanjaneyulu feared that the start-ups would give precedence to bottom lines over farmers’ interests – a fear that grew as those start-ups were bought by larger technology companies.

Galvanised by what he considered a disconcerting trend, Ramanjaneyulu set out to create his own solutions. So, four years ago, his Centre for Sustainable Agriculture made a weather advisory application, an online marketplace, a pest-and-disease surveillance app, a manufacturing inventory app and a quality management app – all integrated on a backend database of farmers.

This October, at the three-storey institute, close to labs for testing…

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