Dr. Sumanta Talukdar, Founder & CEO of Gardin, takes us through the importance of digital phenotyping in agriculture, his views on the sector, and what he thinks the future holds for food production.
Dr. Sumanta Talukdar
"I developed a personal interest in food production primarily born of the question – 'why is it that all the fresh produce I buy looks great but really lacks in quality?' I don't come from a plant science or food industry background at all, and not knowing anything about the industry means that you're allowed to ask a lot of questions, so I spent a year meeting people from all parts of the food industry doing just that."
"In this period, I attended many conferences, and during one such event, I recall asking a leading academic if he was aware of the methods employed to measure the 'goodness,' for lack of a better word, of the food we buy. His answer came as no surprise, and the reality was that there wasn't. The only quality monitoring processes in use in production are based on cosmetic criteria. He said that while this is suboptimal and there is a need to digitally monitor the physiology of plants, it's all we have."
"Phenotyping is not new, so there is a rich knowledge base already out there. However, what we have seen is that the ecosystem is quite fragmented. Unfortunately, this doesn't help us. On the contrary, it creates more noise. However, I think in the UK, especially over the last couple of years, we've seen more concerted, sophisticated efforts from the government in terms of both public funding as well as signs of consolidation between the research done at various universities."
"It is an ecosystem in need of evolving to solve the problem in its entirety. The good news is we are seeing excellent work done by some very clever people in other spaces. People looking at biome, microbiome, and soil research – it does feel like the ecosystem is coming together now. For example, if you look at the obvious leaders in the industry, such as the Netherlands, industry and academia work so well together, it is very much a concerted effort."
Read the complete article at www.chap-solutions.co.uk.