Dr. Ravi Shankar, Visiting Prof (AI – ML), Venture Partner
Over three decades, Dr. Shankar has mentored a slew of Agribusinesses and AgTech startups. Besides, he is actively involved in advising a handful of NFP’s in the rural livelihoods space with a focus on SDG.
Today we talk about the backbone of our economy, agriculture, from a Technological aspect. Our guest for today is Dr. Ravi Shankar, Visiting Prof (AI – ML), Venture Partner, who talks to us about the usage of technological advancements and AI in the agricultural sector.
We are thrilled to have him on the podcast today
An entrepreneur and visiting professor of Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, Ravi has over 30 years of experience as a mentor for a plethora of agribusinesses and Ag-Tech under his belt.
In this informative episode, Ravi helps us understand key concepts of Agri tech and its methods and practices.
What are the key issues or challenges agriculturists in India face today?
Ravi explains that the farmers in India are usually smallholders and have 2-3 acres of land and also face both biotic and abiotic factors that affect the crops, like rains and market prices. Over the last few years, both the central and state government have shown a lot of progress by providing tech solutions that tackle structural issues.
How is technology being used to reduce the risks?
Providing insurance to farmers by designing products specially targeted for farmers and making them accessible to them. He further explains the concept of micro insurances and how they help the farmers get insurance for resources like seeds, equipment, fertilizers, etc. through satellite imagery and sensory data sets
He also gives us a brief insight into the computer vision solutions program that scans the produce at scale and helps in deciding the prices for the same based on quality
About his book:
How is technology changing productivity for farmers?
Ravi tells us how we fall short on the productivity scale as compared to countries like China which also has a majority of small-scale farmers but achieve yields that are 3 times more. He explains that the quality of the product is directly related to the quality of the seeds and although there are government regulations in place to maintain the quality of seeds used, the implementation is yet to be followed.
Ravi also mentions how agriculture universities are doing wonderful research and coming up with new varieties and hybrids which will yield greater outputs.
How important is organic farming in our lives?
Organic farming is nothing but chemical-free agriculture and India as a country is circling back towards it. Even we as consumers are willing to pay a premium price for organically cultivated produce and there is a great demand for it. The future is organic!
What is your role as a venture partner?
Ravi has been a senior venture partner and works with promising startups and helps them with mentoring and funding. He works within agritech insurance, health tech and social impact space and walks them through the four-step process. Very recently Ravi and his team have launched their own learning academy which offers knowledge sharing sessions within the startup ecosystem focusing on unconventional and unique topics
How do you reconcile your need to make an investment and wait for a long time?
Smart investors are those investors who know they do the due diligence and understand the sector at least to the extent that is required before putting the money and know that the growth and impact take time so one has to be patient about it since it involves a lot of factors that are not in one’s control. Having the right mindset is key.
Further, into the conversation, Ravi gives us an in-depth explanation about the connotations that are followed in the field of agriculture and the state and national government framework around it.
“No technology is good or bad, it’s how you are applying it.”
He talks about the era of investing and technological advancements in the agri-sector.
With over 30 years of diverse but deep experience in leveraging analytics led teaching & consulting for biz & social impact straddling multiple verticals, Dr. Shankar has worked with firms like AMEX, BLACKSTONE, DELL, GE, PwC etc in analytics leadership roles.
With a Doctoral degree in Econometrics from the prestigious Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI, New Delhi), Dr. Shankar has taught at various institutes like UASB, IARI, IIMA, XIME etc. Currently, he is a Visiting Prof of AI-ML at CWRU, Carleton Univ, IIT-R, IFIM, INSOFE and Praxis Business School etc. He also regularly conducts corporate learning programs for CXO’s in AI-Adoption, Design Thinking for Data Science, AI driven Strategy & OB etc for the BFSI, Pharma & Manufacturing sectors.
With a Doctoral degree in Econometrics from the prestigious Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI, New Delhi), his passion is in mentoring AgTech startups with a focus on smallholder sustainability.
Over three decades, Dr. Shankar, has mentored a slew of Agri businesses and AgTech startups. Besides, he is actively involved in advising a handful NFP’s in the rural livelihoods space with a focus on SDG’s.
Dr. Ravi Shankar is also an established thought leader in his domain especially in the Indo-US corridor. He has advised a slew of analytics start-up’s straddling Public, Private & Not-For-Profit sectors. Currently, he is actively involved in shaping & executing Data Science led Digital Transformation initiatives with a few leading organisations globally. Areas of specialisation include the application of Design Thinking in Data Science, AI-ML driven Digital Transformation, and XAI straddling Manufacturing, BFSI, Agriculture, Pharma / Healthcare and Technology and Retail.
He is also a senior Venture Partner with an early-stage VC with a focus on AgTech, InsurTech and Social Impact space. His passion is in mentoring AgTech startups with a focus on smallholder sustainability. He is also mentoring NFP’s in the rural livelihoods & transformation space.
He is a teacher, mentor and advisor – all rolled into one. After three decades of corporate hum-drum, he has now gotten back to his first love – teaching & consulting. Outside of work, he is interested in golf, spirituality and making up time for family.