Indian Scientist Dr Parag Narvekar Back From NASA to help farmers of his native

After working at NASA for 12 years, Dr Parag Narvekar returned to Nashik to launch his tech startup Sensartics. Through this, he helps farmers predict disease and rain in advance, cutting their losses

Dr Parag Narvekar, a native of Nashik, Maharashtra, returned from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) after 12 years of service, to set up his tech startup Sensartics. This startup helps farmers predict disease and rain in advance and thereby cutting their losses. He used his skills, knowledge and network to collaborate with a team of scientists at NASA, IIT-Bombay, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Indian Institute of Science (IISc, Bengaluru), the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to construct a low-cost weather station that offers crucial information to farmers.

Parag believes that the farmers are the foundation of any economy, and if the community can be supported and made resilient, it will help the country prosper. He states that the data collected by using satellites via sensors needs decoding. Beyond its primary data gathering, it can present information such as topography, soil type, vegetation, moisture and other parameters. And if it is used well, it has immense potential to nurture the growth of agriculture in India.

In 2017, Dr Parag launched his company, Sensartics Pvt Ltd and collaborated with Sahyadri Farms, a Farmer Producer Company working with farmers on the ground. His company offered three models of a weather station that will assist farmers in various aspects of agriculture. Parag explains that the sensors in these devices help monitor soil, canopy, humidity, and leaf moisture, as well as diagnose early stages of diseases. The farmer receives an alert to intervene and take necessary action.

Usually, weather stations in the market range from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh. His company offers three models in weather stations, namely, Scalar station, Tracer station and Master station. They cost between Rs 10,000 and Rs 60,000. The weather station provides advanced information on aspects such as water management, cold wave, nutrient management, and wind direction, photosynthesis and plant transpiration. The information can be accessed and monitored on a smartphone via an app. The advanced version can cover a radius of 5 km and can be used by a group of farmers together. Over 40 farmers are already benefiting from the weather stations, and an additional 250 have booked their orders.

Dr Parag notes that India has rich weather and biodiversity with favorable climatic conditions. A revolution can be brought in the agriculture sector if the farmers get access to the appropriate technical support for precision farming.