BudMore: Re-defining Farming

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Every problem comes along with a fascinating opportunity for growth. 

Most shy away from this step, but some curious ones realize the potential of this challenge and set forth to achieve a solution for it. They are the change-makers of society, and the world shall remember their works, because their bold move in the direction of the solution will have a compounding effect in the lives of many.

Here are a group of excellent problem solvers, tech enthusiasts, and managers who realized the potential of cutting-edge technology in the arena of fish farming. Their products deliver much-needed assistance to such farmers by reducing the manual labor and increasing efficacy, increasing production many-fold.

In conversation with Syamlal Sasi on the exciting and intriguing journey of BudMore, whose work will touch the lives of millions in India and Australia.

Tell us the story behind BudMore. How did it all begin?

BudMore was born when five passionate professionals from diverse backgrounds – Syamlal , Karthika,  Anilkumar, Vishnu, and Dr. Pradeep – united for a common cause. The team’s desire for innovation, passion for sustainable farming, and the concerns about food security motivated them towards studying the use of advanced technology for growing quality food from limited resources. BudMore AgroTech is the realization of their dream.

 This venture leverages cutting-edge technologies to create an efficient, eco-friendly, and sustainable system that has the potential to revolutionize the aquaculture industry globally. BudMore currently is legally registered and operating from India and Australia under the same brand name and trade name. 

BudMore now is a technology company operational in the Aquaculture domain. Being a company extensively into R&D has always helped us stand out in the market space. Our domain of research includes Embedded Systems (Smart Farming in India) and Plasma-Nano Technology (in Australia).

Could you tell us about the products and services that you provide?

Smart Farming Solution (product) 

BudMore Smart farming solution is an optimal mix of a few IoT hardware and one cloud-based software (SaaS) capable of automating the end-to-end operations happening in an aquaculture hatchery or farm. We currently have a combination of ten different hardware products capable of functioning as standalone / discrete systems, and also in combination as a single end-to-end automation system for the Indian market. The company has a different version of the product line for the export market.

The Farm Management System, in addition to being the control center for the IoT hardware, would also have functionalities like Operational Registry management, Crop management, Feeding management, Harvest management and advanced AI/ML based predicative analytics incorporated into it. It will help the farmer become productive, data driven and operate on a commercial scale seamlessly with limited land/resources.  

Automation Hardware: 

  1. Water Quality Monitors (IoT)
    • Multiparameter WQM (5 – parameters)
    • Single parameter WQM
  2. Water Quality Controller(IoT)
  3. Circulation Controller(IoT)
  4. Aeration Controller(IoT)
  5. Filter Controller(IoT)
  6. Intruder Detection System(IoT)
  1. Smart Feeder (IoT)
  2. Energy & Power Monitor(IoT)
  3. Communication Controller(IoT)
  4. Automation Monitor
  5. Water Level Controller (Offline)

Services

  • Contract Farming 
  • Automation Consulting
  • Process optimization

Could you brief us about smart farming and about your company’s products that support it? 

BudMore’s smart farming solution is capable of making an Aquaculture farm fully autonomous. The solution includes automation hardware (IoT) and one farm management system known as COCKATOO (named after the beautiful Australian bird). Each hardware is a simple plug-and-play device, designed to work as a standalone units (to automate a specific process) and also in combination with each other to perform end-to-end automation. 

Every aquaculture farming system (conventional/high-density) has a well-defined process in place to maintain the desired aquatic environment. This is to ensure efficient fish growth and to improve productivity. By integrating our solution (hardware & software) we make the life of farmers easy, structured and seamlessly data driven.

A brief on the critical operations being taken care by solution includes 

  1. Water quality monitoring
    With BudMore WQM (water quality monitor), the farmer gets real-time water quality statistics from the pond fetched every 10 seconds and with an industrial scale accuracy. Furthermore, the data is stored, analyzed and actionable insights are generated for the farmer by the FMS. 
  2. Aeration Management
    Adequate aeration/oxygenation is critical and life-sustaining for all fish. The dissolved oxygen (DO) statistics from the WQM is used by the WQ-Controllers to manage the aeration system in-order to ensure optimal DO level in the pond. 
  3. Filtration & Circulation Management
    Filtration helps to remove the solid waste and fix ammonia while circulation helps to re-cycle the water and minimize wastage. Filtration and circulation forms the core of high-density farming practices and hatchery operations. Our controllers eliminates this arduous task that takes most of the farmers’ time and effort. 

Feeding

Most feeding practice followed by farmers in India is based on various rules-of-thumb, that have proven to be inefficient. Although not life-threatening, feeding in aquaculture is highly relevant and has a direct relation with farming productivity. Structured time-bound feeding always gives the best food conversion ratio. Using the BudMore solution feeding can be made structured, time-bound, and data-driven. 

Power and Energy Management.
Energy always comes with a cost. Loss of power is often critical, and the power of machines does deteriorate with wear and tear. Using our solution, a farmer never needs to worry about power failure management, load balancing of machines, performance cushioning of devices or detecting mechanical failures in real-time.  

Security surveillance
Theft is a common issue faced by farmers. Our Intruders Detection System assures 24*7 surveillance and could be coupled with alarms, lighting systems and even video recording systems simultaneously for the best security. 

Research & Development

BudMore although a start-up has a strong in-house R&D. BudMore (Australia) team works with cutting-edge R&D using plasma-technology and nano-technology. The team has successfully developed a solution that could disinfect the Aquaculture media without applying chemicals, drugs, antibiotics, or vaccines. The lab-scale prototyping, patenting, lab trials, and field trials are completed. The team is currently focusing on upscaling the technology. 

BudMore (India) team works with the R&D aspect of Smart farming solutions. With 2 phases of product development being completed, the above list of products are ready. The team is working with Phase 3 of smart farming systems design, Phase 2 of FMS development, and the AI & ML aspects of the FMS. 

What are some of the challenges you faced while setting up this startup, and how did you overcome these challenges?

BudMore had its greatest challenge/learning curve during the first two years (2018-2020 ) when the team (both the India and Australia) were working on two distinct innovative concepts for the first time. We were fortunate that we had the funds which (barely) gave us a runway of 24months.  

The team in India had their biggest learning curve when they decided to build their own farm. They had to perform extensive research, and o the field and market study. And then they had to design, engineer & re-engineer the RAS system, the automation hardware (V1.0 to V3.0) and the cloud based Farm Management System (FMS) (V1.0 to V 2.4). It was huge learning experience with the small core team working in parallel together through multitude of perspectives like marketing, strategy, product/solution engineering and even sales.

Meanwhile the team in Australia did complete the plasma-nano disinfection system lab scale product development, lab trials, and was in need of R&D funds for farm trails. 

After a long period of 22 months of R&D, engineering, re-engineering, field trials, and even farming we decided to go raising funds for operations. We must say that it was the second greatest learning curve, we did numerous funding pitches, sales pitches, strategic collaborations, and joint ventures. In course of the last three years, we have had witnessed numerous failures and a few successes. Every small milestone which we have had was a great learning curve. 

Tell us about your team. How did you meet each other, and what are their roles in the company?

At its core, the BudMore team is the same small group of professionals, which the company takes pride in. But each team member comes in with unique strengths and skillsets and finds a way to contribute something significant to the organization.

Syamlal Sasi and Dr. Pradeep Pillai handle Business Development, Strategy, and Finance.

Anilkumar Sasi, who was previously heading operations, now handles the marketing, pre-sales, and after-sales support.

Vishnu Krishnakumar heads the Operations team of 5. Working closely with his team is Nithin Samuel, who contributes as an Operations Consultant. Along with his venture, Leadlytics, Nithin also brings in his expertise in B2B sales and helps with domestic and international lead generation. 

Dr. Karthika is the Director of Research and Development and leads a 5-member international team that includes Dr. Renwu Zhou from China and Mr. Janith Weerasinghe from Sri Lanka. 

The in-house IT team is headed by Mukhil Rajeev, who has two people working with him. This team is responsible for the development of the FMS product. For all other IT needs such as the website, eCommerce, digital marketing, etc., BudMore works closely with Sygul Technologies.

Your company operates in India and Australia. Is there a specific reason why you chose these markets? How was the reception in the two countries different?

India houses 17.7% of the world’s population immense and we have a large number of children starving from protein-energy malnutrition every year. Although we are one of the highest aquaculture producers, there exists a huge gap between domestic production and consumption. The market potential for hi-tech farming is immense. 

Despite all the above facts, the mortality or inefficiency index of the Indian aquaculture industry ranges between 70% to 85%. We could see that there existed huge room for optimization, a real social cause for productivity improvement, and the need for profitability enhancement for farmers of India using technology. 

Australia has a mature market where the scope of automation and data-driven farming is highly relevant. Agriculture is always done on a commercial scale, where the farmer always looks for ways to optimize the operational cost. The fish-farm industry is more open to advanced technologies and innovations like plasma/nano tech. 

Our teams’ physical presence at these locations has enabled active collaborations with the respective regions’ foremost research and business entities. 

Currently, we also seek to have our scope of business expanded to the Middle East, UK and Turkey through our joint venture with Clear Water (UK) and NextGen (Turkey) respectively 

What are some of the milestones that BudMore has achieved in its journey so far?

What are your plans for BudMore? Where do you see the company in five years?

We aspire to be the global leader in Aquaculture. We seek to be the pioneer and leader in industrial R&D for aquaculture.

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