Interview with Dr. Sat Kumar and Dr. Yukti Gill, Co-founders of Satyukt Analytics


An exclusive interview with Dr. Sat Kumar and Dr. Yukti Gill, Co-founders of Satyukt Analytics

Welcome to an insightful interview with two visionary minds at the forefront of the agricultural technology revolution: Dr. Sat Kumar and Dr. Yukti Gill, the brilliant co-founders of Satyukt Analytics.

As trailblazers in the realm of agri-tech, they have harnessed the immense power of satellite data, cutting-edge technology, and machine learning to establish Satyukt Analytics as a pioneering force in the industry.

With an unwavering commitment to transforming global agriculture, their innovative Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions are not only revolutionizing farming practices but also redefining the way we approach sustainable food production.

In this interview, we delve into their journey, insights, and the remarkable impact they are making through their groundbreaking contributions to the field.

Both Dr Sat Kumar and Dr. Yukti Gill, cofounders of Satyukt bring their unique backgrounds and shared missions to the table. Driven by a steadfast mission, Dr Sat and Dr Yukti teamed up to harness their expertise, leveraging technology to resolve the very real challenges faced by the farmers and all stakeholders in the agriculture ecosystem.

Dr Sat Kumar, Cofounder & CEO, Journey – A seed of purpose sown early.

Growing up amidst agricultural surroundings, I bore witness to the daily struggles that farmers faced. I vividly recall observing my grandfather, a farmer like many in our community, grappling with the challenges that plagued his fellow villagers and their farms.

It was during that instance, as I watched my grandfather (the then Pradhan in his village), endeavour to solve the agricultural predicaments of our neighbours, that a profound realization took root within me: “Farmers deserve much more.”

This seed of thought germinated that day, and with it grew a resolute determination to dedicate my career to finding solutions. Despite the proliferation of technology in even the remotest corners, farmers- particularly those small and marginal-continue to grapple with limited access to essential information.

This awareness ignited my journey toward groundbreaking research at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, on satellite remote sensing coupled with field experiments to develop real-time accurate information at the farm scale. The trailblazing research led to the establishment of ( experimental watershed to study the farms by using the data from various space agencies.

Upon completing his post-doctoral stint at CESBIO, Toulouse, France, a profound drive to contribute to the agriculture sector gripped him. Although initially considering academic pursuit, he was nudged by the encouragement of friends and family to channel his expertise towards practical problem-solving.

With their encouragement, he embraced entrepreneurship, cofounding Satyukt ( alongside Dr Yukti, PhD in Organisational Behaviour perfectly complementing the pressing need to establish an organization with a comprehensive toolkit to manage people, navigate organizational challenges, and foster growth.

Dr. Yukti Gill, Cofounder & MD, Journey- A personal connection to the soil.

Life often steers up towards purpose, sometimes in an unexpected way. A pivotal moment was my family’s shift to our ancestral village after my uncle’s loss, who used to manage our agricultural land. As I saw my father embrace farming’s challenges, I recognized the struggle shared by countless farmers nationwide. The gravity of the situation struck me profoundly.

I knew then that my purpose was intricately tied to making a difference in the lives of the farmers. And so, driven by this calling, I aligned my journey with Dr Sat’s vision, united in our aspiration to transform the landscape of agriculture for the better.

Initially embarked on an academic trajectory as an Assistant professor at Banasthali University, Rajasthan, eventually, the pull to catalyze positive change led her to transition towards cofounding Satyukt. 

Her journey from an Applied psychology degree at Delhi Univerity to a PhD in Organizational Behaviour from Banaras Hindu University, equipped her with insights into behaviour, leadership, collaboration, and cultural dynamics, enhancing strategic business development processes.

What motivated you to venture into the agri-tech sector, and what unique vision does your company bring to the field?

The majority of the farmers in India (almost 85%) and other developing nations fall under the category of small and marginal landholders. Remarkably, contemporary technologies are predominantly tailored for large-scale farming operations.

Our vision, in stark contrast, is to democratize precision farming, making it accessible to every farmer, regardless of the extent of their land holdings,

Agriculture and technology have converged to reshape the industry. How do the solutions offered by Satyukt Analytics harness technology to address challenges and drive innovation in the agriculture sector?

In the realm of agriculture, significant hurdles include reduced crop yields attributed to nutrient imbalances, pest and disease pressures, soil degradation, lack of access to modern farming practices, climate variability and more. Regrettably, prevailing solutions to these challenges remain either absent or restricted to specific regions and a limited subset of farmers.

Our commitment is directed towards harnessing the potential of cutting-edge technologies, such as satellite remote sensing and machine learning. Through these advanced tools, we aspire to furnish solutions, that transcend geographical limitations.

Our objective is to offer assistance to every single farmer, including those situated in the most remote corners, addressing these challenges head-on.

Data-driven insights are crucial for informed decision-making in agriculture. Could you elaborate on the data collection and analysis methodologies that your company employs to empower farmers and stakeholders?

Our Approach involves satellite-enabled soil testing eliminating the need for the farmers to collect and transport soil samples to a physical laboratory. Leveraging our innovative technology based on satellite remote sensing, farmers receive instant soil testing reports and corresponding fertilizer dosage recommendations via a mobile application.

Through the mobile app, we extend our services to address pest and disease management, water conservation, and soil health enhancement, including the augmentation of organic carbon levels. The multifaceted solution serves to bolster overall soil health.

Notably, our solution transcends geographical boundaries, catering to a global audience. Currently, it enjoys utilization by over 50,000 farmers worldwide.

Sustainable agriculture practices are gaining prominence globally. How does Satyukt Analytics integrate sustainability into its solutions, and what role does technology play in promoting environmentally friendly farming practices?

Our technology serves as a guiding force for farmers, enabling them to utilize optimal volumes of water precisely when needed. This approach results in efficient water usage within crop cultivation. In India, agricultural practices are accountable for over 80% of freshwater consumption.

However, the nation’s irrigation water efficiency currently stands at only about one-third. Our technology plays a pivotal role by advising farmers to exercise prudence in water usage, thereby fostering the achievement of enhanced crop yield per unit of water employed (more crop per drop).

Additionally, our technology extends its influence towards cultivating healthier soil. Through continuous soil health monitoring, our solution furnishes farmers with essential insights into the requisite nutrient levels for specific crops.

Presently, nutrient application practices in India are disproportionately skewed toward nitrogen, often neglecting other crucial nutrients. The imbalance results in low nitrogen efficiency, leading to the contamination of the groundwater and air quality, along with subpar crop yields.

By advocating foe accurate nutrient application at the optimal juncture, our technology contributes to heightened crop yields in an ecologically conscious manner.

The agri-tech landscape can be complex, with various stakeholders involved. How does Satyukt Analytics collaborate with farmers, agricultural experts, and other partners to create a holistic ecosystem of support?

At the core of Satyukt’s offerings are the farmers themselves. Yet, our perspective diverges from viewing other integral players within the ecosystem, such as agriculture experts or retailers as rivals. Instead, we embrace them as partners and collaboratively extend our technology’s reach to a wider spectrum of farmers.

There exists a prevalent misconception perpetuated by a subset of individuals, suggesting that, only a select few contribute genuine value to farmers, while others merely serve as intermediaries charging fees without delivering tangible worth.

However, our conviction strongly asserts that every individual within the ecosystem contributes value in their unique capacity. We ardently collaborate with these stakeholders, aiming to amplify the value they bring to both farmers and the broader ecosystem.

Precision agriculture is a significant trend in modern farming. How does Satyukt Analytics contribute to precision farming techniques, and what benefits can farmers expect from implementing these technologies?

The fundamental objective of precision farming revolves around the strategic application of inputs such as fertilizers, water, pesticides, and weedicides, precisely calibrated in terms of both quantity and timing.

This approach takes precision farming a step further by suggesting that input applications need not be uniform across an entire farm; rather, they can be tailored to vary within a single farm.

Regrettably, the adoption of precision agriculture among small and marginal farmers has been quite limited. The scarcity stems from the fact that the tools developed in this domain have primarily catered to larger-scale farmers, those owning expansive tracts of land spanning hundreds of hectares.

However, Satyukt’s vision is grounded in democratizing precision farming, making it accessible to every farmer, regardless of their landholding size.

The overarching advantage of precision farming lies in its potential to curtail input costs and cultivation expenses, while concurrently fostering sustainable enhancement in crop productivity.

Innovation often comes with challenges. Could you share some of the hurdles you’ve encountered in introducing agri-tech solutions, and how has Satyukt Analytics managed to overcome them?

An overarching challenge prevalent in the agricultural industry, as well as across other sectors, lies in the user’s pursuit of solutions rather than technology. The process of transforming technology into an effective solution hinge on consistent interaction with users.

Our team has dedicated substantial time to engage with farmers across India, comprehending their requirements and harnessing technology to address them.

Among the key hurdles we encountered was aligning the challenges faced by farmers with our technological capabilities. Additionally, a critical aspect was ensuring the delivery of solutions in a user-friendly and actionable manner, devoid of any need for capital expenditure or hardware involvement.

An integral insight we gained is that the resolution of farmers’ issues necessitates collaborative partnerships within the ecosystem, rather than striving to disrupt it.

Satyukt Analytics likely deals with a vast amount of data. How do you ensure the security and privacy of this data, especially considering the sensitive nature of agricultural information?

We operate on a model where we charge our users for the information and advisories that we offer. It’s important to emphasize that we hold our users’ trust in high regard; we do not use them as commodities and do not engage in sharing their data with any entity, whether for marketing or any other purpose.

To ensure the security of the data, we employ robust measures, including storing it in secure cloud environments. Access to this data is limited only to specific members of our team, who utilize it solely to deliver pertinent information and advisories to farmers.

Upholding our steadfast policy, we refrain from sharing this data with any external company or organization.

Moreover, our data collection practices are minimally invasive. We request only essential information from farmers, such as crop type, sowing date and farm location. We maintain a strict stance against collecting any personal information, such as ownership details or KYC documents, from farmers.

As an entrepreneur in the agri-tech space, what advice would you give to other individuals who are passionate about using technology to drive positive change in the agriculture sector?

First and foremost, I suggest shifting the focus towards comprehending the problem and discovering viable solutions, rather than fixating solely on the technology itself. It is imperative to bear in mind that technology functions as a tool to tackle challenges.

Furthermore, within the realm of agriculture, and possibly in all endeavors, patience plays a crucial role. To succeed, it’s essential to invest considerable time engaging with farmers, undertaking their issues, and harnessing our technological expertise to provide meaningful solutions.

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