The wardrobe of an Indian woman is said to be incomplete if a silk saree is absent. Be it a wedding, festival, or office conference the 3.5 to 9 yard long elegantly glistening fabric is worn and further compliments the beauty of a woman irrespective of her age.
But a handful of them are aware that behind this vibrantly coloured smooth fabric a herculean task goes in culturing of silkworms to extract silk yarns.
The Indian silk industry is plagued with challenges of price irregularities, absence of a proper market, high production costs, low productivity, lack of technology intervention, middlemen, and competition from Chinese synthetic fibres. According to The Central Silk Board, the sericulture industry employs around 9.1 million spanning 52630 villages. Such challenges affect the growth and livelihood of sericulture farmers. The existing gaps and irregularities in the silk industry drew the attention of Mayank Tiwari – an alumnus of NIFT, who later on went ahead to launch India’s first silk Agritech start-up, ReshaMandi in April 2020. ReshaMandi effectively deals with the concerns of sericulture farmers regarding poor market linkages, crop failures, and inconsistent quality in silkworm production using AI and IoT led tech intervention.
What is ReshaMandi and How Does it Solve?
ReshaMandi is a silk Agritech start-up that helps sericulture farmers improve the production and quality of silk using artificial intelligence, cloud platforms, and sensors all consolidated in an app. AI and IoT-led capabilities benefit the entire chain of sericulture stakeholders from the grassroots level i.e., weavers, reelers, farmers, and the business and retailers by offering a 360-degree solution in quality monitoring of crops, AI-led yarn grading, and market linkages. The platform works directly with farmers and retailers to help them get the market price for the former’s produce.
The Indian silk industry is plagued with challenges of price irregularities, absence of a proper market, high production costs, low productivity, lack of technology intervention, middlemen, and competition from Chinese synthetic fibres.
How ReshaMandi is making silk affordable?
ReshaMandi is making silk affordable in the following manner:
- AI-powered disease detection system producing high-quality silk yarn.
- Reducing crop failures by effective monitoring of climatic conditions using IoT.
- AI-enabled Renditta i.e., scientific cocoon grading of produce to avail the best market prices.
- The presence of hyperlocal sourcing hubs reduces the logistics cost of farmers of selling produce which otherwise required long travel hours.
How ReshaMandi is Digitising Silk?
ReshaMandi’s self-developed plug and play technology and application works in two stages:
1st stage: the mulberry plantation
2nd Stage: silkworm rearing stage
The leaves of the mulberry plants are the food for silkworms which need to be of a certain desired quality at the formative stages of worm’s growth. ReshaMandi’s device sensors placed at the plantation collects data on pH value of soil, moisture, etc. that are sent to a cloud-based server that processes data and provides guidance and tips to the farmers for optimum irrigation and maintenance of the mulberry plant. Diligent monitoring ensures quality mulberry leaves for silkworms’ food resulting in healthy worms.
Now coming to the rearing beds, the sensor presents gauges and monitors four parameters namely light, air quality, humidity, and temperature. The sensors collect data based on which it sends customised notifications and technical advisory catering to each farmer on ReshaMandi’s app in the local language. The advisories sent on the app aid farmers to maintain optimum conditions for the best growth of the silkworms until they reach the cocoon stage that lasts for a month. The app also sends warning messages in case farmers fail to take timely steps.
How ReshaMandi connects the Network of Sericulture farmers?
ReshaMandi Super app connects the silk reelers to procure scientifically tested high-quality cocoons through its platform within a single click at a better price.The app enables retailers and businesses to connect directly with its one-click fabric listing. The platform is also integrated with fintech partners for digital payment gateways through a proxy.
What Lies Ahead for the Start-ups in Sericulture Vertical?
India is the second-largest producer of silk after China. Due to an unorganised supply chain and interference of traders as middlemen exploit the farmers and producers of the yarn leaving them with no choice but to accept the negotiated price of the produce which in turn makes the next production of silkworms unsustainable in the long run. Start-ups foraying in sericulture space will prove beneficial to the farmers as it will establish an organised ecosystem where the farmers will be able to sell their produce at appropriate prices, therefore, improving incomes and better budget for operating expenses.