Wadhwani AI raised $3.3 million in grant funding under the AI for the Global Goals challenge by Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm to scale AI technology currently advising farmers on pest management for cotton crops, to now also protect India’s staple food crops, integrating it into the digital systems of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare for nationwide reach.
The company’s AI solution, the Cotton Ace app that has helped improve crop productivity and farmer incomes across the country, uses pictures uploaded by farmers to identify pests and provide data-driven solutions to address crop damage, while also providing them up-to-date information on weather, farming methods, and crop prices.
Speaking about the grant, Shekar Sivasubramanian, CEO of Wadhwani AI, said, “We aim to boost efficiency and production in the Indian agricultural sector using AI. Our Cotton Ace app, supported by Google.org, has already increased farmers' profits by 20 per cent and reduced pesticide expenses by 25 per cent. This recent grant will help us expand our technology to safeguard staple crops like rice, wheat, and corn, supporting the UN's goal of zero hunger."
Wadhwani AI is one of 15 organisations worldwide to receive support through the $25 million philanthropy challenge by Google.org for projects that use artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Annie Lewin, senior director of global advocacy and head of Asia Pacific, Google.org said: “The AI for the Global Goals Impact Challenge is an important part of our commitment to supporting progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but also to our longstanding mission to supporting brilliant changemakers using technology to solve humanity's biggest challenges. This new grant to Wadhwani AI speaks directly to Google’s DNA, supporting the real-world application of the latest advancement in AI and technology to safeguard the sustenance of a whole nation.”
The company intends to use this fund to expand its contribution to India's agricultural knowledge systems, while also supporting sustainable farming practices and improving the livelihoods of farmers across the country, it said in a statement.
The Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence (Wadhwani AI) is an independent nonprofit institute developing and deploying AI solutions for communities in India and the global south.