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How Katidhan offers tech solutions for agri community against wildlife attacks in fields

The products developed by Katidhan works in a non-invasive way against elephants, wild boars, Nilgai, tigers, leopards, bears, snow leopards, says its Founder Ayan Syed

Ayan Syed Rehmatul,  Founder,  Director,  Katidhan
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Ayan Syed Rehmatul, Founder, Director, Katidhan

India's breathtaking landscapes are today marred by a growing (but less spoken about) conflict: humans vs. wildlife. As the country’s forest cover shrinks, diminishing habitats continue to push wild animals closer to villages and human territories, leading to devastating consequences. Amid such a scenario, India's rural communities living near forests, including farmers – the backbone of the nation – are often the ones bearing the worst brunt – experiencing crop losses, agri-property damage, injuries/deaths of their loved ones and household cattle and livestock, and constantly living in fear! Ayan Syed Rehmatul, Founder and Director of Katidhan, a Bengaluru-based startup working in the agri-tech and wildlife tech space, explains to Bizz Buzz how they are building technological solutions to help farmers overcome their crop losses

What is the mission of Katidhan? How do you see the company evolving over the next few years?

Our mission is to research and build relevant tech solutions that could reduce the economic losses faced in agriculture due to wildlife attacks and also potentially reduce the alarming human-animal conflict.

Currently, we have begun with providing tech solutions to cater to the above mission and from there, we will evolve and include other automated tech solutions for the agriculture sector especially impacted by climate change problems. We will be including multiple products and solutions as a vertex under the agritech, climate tech, wildlife tech and sustainable tech segments. Our company will be setting benchmarks in the coming years for automation tech supplied across India and globally as well.

What animals does Katidhan’s product work against?

The products developed by Katidhan works in a non-invasive way against elephants, wild boars, nilgai, tigers, leopards, bears, snow leopards, etc., where they alter their behavioral pattern to keep them away from land areas. The efficiency rate of our flagship product for these animals is between 89-95 per cent for the mentioned animals. We have also researched, designed and worked to build solutions for different types of species of monkeys such as Bonnet macaque, Rhesus macaque and langurs. However, keeping in mind about their quick adaptability we have launched them only as product pilots in the market. This means that we do not sell more than a few units to an individual customer until they confirm the effectiveness of the first purchased unit.

How crucial is to build solutions that do not harm wildlife? How has climate change played a role in this?

It is extremely important to build and supply solutions that work non-invasively to keep the wild animals away without causing them any harm and this ensures that there is ecological balance maintained. If the solutions fatally attack the wildlife, there would be increased interactions between humans and the wildlife resulting in higher conflicts. Over the years, we have seen and read about multiple incidents of wildlife being fatally attacked by humans, more so in retaliation for the deaths of human beings that they caused. Climate change has increasingly playing a large significant role in the increased interaction between humans and wildlife. With the increased temperatures, lakes drying up and scarcity of food in forest areas push the wild animals in moving away from their current locations into human settlement areas. These areas often have ease of access of food and water and thus there begins the conflict between humans and wildlife.

Could you provide an overview of the key products or services that Katidhan offers? What makes them unique in the market?

Katidhan is currently providing hardware technological products that can be used by the agri community to keep wild animals away from land areas and we are also complementing them with services that would provide them with an end to end package.

Our flagship product is Parabraksh i.e. a solar powered autonomous light deterrent system for larger wild animals that attack during the night time and we also have Kapikaat – a bio acoustic sound deterrent system for daytime attacks. These products are unique in offering considering these solutions to be one of a kind in India built from a behavioural design approach and them having absolutely no benchmarks for the same.

Can you provide examples of how Katidhan has successfully implementation of sustainable practices within the company?

We are a tech company. We place great pride in being a sustainable tech first company where our products are primarily run with solar power having energy storage systems ie batteries as the secondary options. The new products and services are being designed and yet to be launched in the market, are also primarily going to be sustainably powered. Apart from this, we use bio degradable plastic material to make these products that are recyclable with our product packaging consists of eco-friendly gummed paper tapes, Bhive wraps and recyclable cardboard materials. These materials used for product packaging are recyclable and do not contribute for any waste. We use minimal paper and provide digital invoices only.

Who are your primary customers, and what are some common challenges they face that Katidhan helps address?

Our primary customers are Agri businesses, Agri E-commerce companies, distributors, dealers, Farmer producer organizations, regular farmers etc but our products are also being purchased by various government departments with the ultimate user being a farmer. Some of the state forest departments who purchase our products use it in a dual ownership model i.e. some of them own it while others provide a certain subsidy to the Panchayat or the Village Eco Development Committees with the balance coming as a collective fund from the farmers or the members of the village who are affected by these wildlife attacks. We are experimenting different models of engagement with the ultimate aim to reach out to as many farmers as possible in India. The customer base albeit small has also expanded to include Corporates, Industries, food processing industries, agri universities etc. Currently, we are majorly focused on one challenge i.e. crop losses due to wildlife attacks and we are trying to provide different techniques of addressing this challenge which is incrementally increasing year on year in India. However, we are also researching and working towards adding the challenge of pest attacks on crops with this being an added addition to the current products that we are already providing. Pest attacks in terms of scale are a larger problem to tackle in comparison to wildlife attacks and require highly intelligent technological systems to work with.

Are there any emerging technologies, such as AI, machine learning, or blockchain that Katidhan is exploring or implementing? How do you see these impacting your business?

We are not only exploring but have already started our work building AI based Early Warning systems that include heavy Machine learning algorithms. We received a grant as well from Karnataka Government under ELEVATE Karnataka to build and test the Prototypes for the same. Apart from these, we foresee a lot more work and considerable effort in Artificial Intelligence based systems that would help in not only capturing real time data but also build predictive algorithms to assess the movement of wildlife. Apart from this, in our horizontal expansion strategy, we will use a lot of AI based systems to predict pest detection and management for different types of crops across India. These systems will primarily be solar powered with additional capacity of being powered by energy storage systems ie batteries and along with this, we are also looking at adding drone based solutions to our business. Drones especially AI powered ones are a rarity in India but these are the required drones that are needed for our use cases as we look to automate the farm or the agriculture sector with multiple technological solutions. All the above mentioned systems would drastically amplify our current product portfolio and help in expanding our services to various other sectors apart from agriculture thereby increasing the revenue streams.

How does Katidhan approach innovation and product development? Are there any exciting projects or initiatives currently underway?

We follow various principles and methods of product design and development like DTC, DFM etc in our strategy of building the solutions. However largely we use this process of Define - Research - Ideate - Prototype - Test - Build - Scale and Redefine (If required). We believe that in any product design especially when it comes to building solutions for behavioral aspects of living beings, there will come a time when the product at scalable stage would need to be again relooked and redefined as we will witness different set of problems moving in at that stage. Therefore, that becomes an important part of our process for scale. AI powered systems is something that we are quite excited about as the more we work on it, the more we realize about its hidden potential in addressing this largely complex problem. Automation without intelligence again becomes a drudgery tool for the agri sector which requires heavy dosage of intelligence considering the complexity of issues that it faces.

What are some emerging trends in your industry that you believe will significantly impact Katidhan and its customers?

Our area of focus is a growing segment in the agri sector and the problem statement that is being addressed is extremely significant with a year on year increment of anywhere between 5-10 per cent. We have a first mover advantage and believe that this segment will grow extremely high in the coming few years both in India and across the world. There is immense growth potential for Katidhan and others who would like to venture into this segment and we heartily welcome more innovations and businesses to work on this problem statement. The more companies focus, the better it is for the customers who will be flooded with various options to choose from and thus the segment itself will see a very heavy growth.

Is Katidhan a profit making enterprise?

Yes, we are profitable.

Vincent Fernandes
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