There are global food shortages happening right now that are driving up prices and impacting people around the world. From wheat shortages to chicken export restrictions, Southeast Asia is not alone in feeling the struggle.
Is there a solution that is tech-driven? Well, Southeast Asia, with its large agricultural market, would benefit significantly from agricultural data technology to improve yield and cut costs. That is why we wanted to speak to Taranis President & Co-Founder Ofir Schlam. As an AI-powered crop intelligence provider, the use of AI and machine learning (ML) solutions can monitor and optimize irrigation, detect soil conditions, track crop development, evaluate and harvest crops and project future growing conditions.
In addition, technologies that facilitate crop intelligence and agricultural carbon credits such as Taranis’ solutions have large-scale potential to improve sustainability and enduring prosperity.
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The company recently raised $40 million in Series D funding led by Inven Capital, a European climate tech fund, with participation from new investors Seraphim Space Investment Trust (‘SSIT’) and Farglory Group. The round also included participation from investors like Vertex Growth, UMC Capital, OurCrowd, Micron Ventures and more. This latest round brings Taranis’ total funding to $100 million.
Taranis’ crop intelligence platform uniquely leverages leaf-level imagery and is powered by cutting-edge machine learning, trained by the industry’s largest crop dataset containing over 200 million AI-data points. In the most recent growing season, Taranis delivered millions of actionable insights to ag advisors and growers, empowering decision-making, simplifying crop management, and improving their bottom line.
Congrats on the funding. How will it be used?
Taranis will be using the proceeds to accelerate growth and extend the reach to more advisors and growers in order to provide them with critical crop intelligence insights. In parallel Taranis continues to innovate and invest in new technologies, releasing multiple groundbreaking capabilities ahead of every crop season. For example, a new line of business at Taranis is our Carbon Solutions, a practical carbon for measuring, reporting and verifying carbon sequestered into the soil, helping growers get easier access to subsidies and unlocking new revenue opportunities for agribusiness.
Could you explain how your technology works and what impact it can have on yields?
The Taranis crop intelligence platform leverages leaf-level imagery and a robust AI system, backed by the industry’s largest crop data set containing more than 200 million AI data points. We’ve built the largest drone operation network in agriculture, and we offer a subscription to provide actionable insights every week of the season for each subscribed field. We use high-end cameras to capture even the earliest symptoms on a single leaf in a field. Then our AI engines analyze every picture to understand what is going on in every part of the field, providing agronomists with timely information about potential threats to their growers’ fields. This way we can help ag retailers prevent the spread of weeds, disease, insect damage, fertilizer deficiencies and more for every customer they serve.
We enable the co-ops and ag retailers to improve their offerings to growers and improve the efficiency of their operations. By using our service they can focus on the grower and let us do the scouting so that they can provide high-quality service but also serve many more growers and fields at the same time. Today these crop threats cause up to 40% of potential yield to be lost every year – this is estimated at $600B every year, globally. Today we mitigate many of these threats on corn, soybean, cotton and sugarcane which could amount to 5% of yield increase, meaning a 30% or more profit increase. As we add more threats and more crops we will be able to increase these numbers substantially.
Could you give us an overview of the Southeast Asian agribusiness industry?
The Southeast Asia market could be a large and very important market for Taranis in the future. The same crops that we cover are also large in this area and in the future we also see ourselves expanding the list of crops to include rice and other crops that are important for Southeast Asia growers. China and India alone have about 1 billion acres of open farmland out of 3.5 billion worldwide, including more than 400 million acres of just corn, soybean, cotton and sugarcane.
Where do you see the most potential in the region?
Any of the markets in Asia’s agriculture ecosystem would operate differently than the US and Brazil where Taranis is focusing today. So we believe we would need to find a strong partner for each country in this market, and fine-tune our go-to-market approach. This is due to the fact the sheer number of people engaged in farming is mind-boggling, and the average farm in Asia is much smaller than in North or South America. Therefore, we will need a scalable approach with local partners who service growers and can add our added-value service to their portfolio.
What are the biggest challenges you are facing at the moment?
The biggest challenge, like in many other disruptive technologies, is to invest in market education since the main way of scouting fields today still remains the manual legwork of looking for pests in the field. Precision scouting service like ours is new, which means that we need to expose more growers, co-op, ag retailers and suppliers to what crop intelligence with actionable insights can do for their business.
What’s next for Taranis?
Using this funding we intend to focus on accelerating the execution of our strategic plan, expanding our operations, and providing an exceptional level of service to our customers.
We see the inflexion point where our core offering in precision scouting is picking up an even greater momentum, and we can serve so many more farmers and acres. For us this is an amazing opportunity to add the capabilities our entire client base is asking for, to offer the most complete platform in the crop intelligence space.