“We are combining the disruptive power of artificial intelligence with agriculture,” says Chairman of SpectrifyAI, Samantha Ranatunga, describing the company’s vision. Sri Lanka has a rich history of agriculture dating back thousands of years. But in present times, we live in a modern world governed by artificial intelligence, and we’ve yet to scratch the surface of the vast potential of the agricultural sector. Through its agri-tech solutions, SpectrifyAI aims to empower farmers with the data they need and unlock the untapped potential of the industry.
Inside SpectrifyAI and unlocking the potential of agriculture
SpectrifyAI was founded by serial entrepreneur Jeevan Gnanam and a leading expert for Agile Development in Photonics, Mike Richardson. Alongside them is Samantha Ranatunga, who brings a wealth of expertise in agriculture as the Managing Director/CEO at CIC Holdings.
With their collective expertise, the company has leveraged advancements in AI and spectral analysis. In doing so, it has created a range of low-cost patented spectral scanners that ensure consistent quality control across the agricultural supply chain. These handheld scanners can analyse everything from soil composition to the chemical makeup of tea, spices, and herbs in real-time.
These scanners work by simply taking a picture of the crop. The analysis starts by conducting a spectral analysis, which involves identifying how light interacts with matter. With each scan, the AI can use these light patterns of a product to determine its unique characteristics. Over time, the AI can expand its knowledge, recognise similar light patterns, and identify high-quality crops.
Getting the correct data, eliminating inefficiencies, and improving quality
Offering an introduction to the agricultural sector, Samantha shared, “In Sri Lanka, virtually everything in agriculture happens manually. The human element is essential because another human will consume our produce. However, it has also resulted in inefficient processes that generate a lot of waste. At SpectrifyAI, our focus is on empowering the human workforce with technology to reduce inefficiencies.”
Highlighting the potential of technology in agriculture, he points to the tea industry. Here, the quality of the leaf plucked determines the taste of the end product. Several factors like moisture content and the presence of impurities play a critical role here.
But the industry lacks accurate means of measuring these factors. Instead, it’s reliant on the intuition of humans involved in the production process. With SpectrifyAI’s scanners, a tea plucker or factory worker can instantly take a picture of the tea leaf to analyse these factors scientifically. Having this data opens up new opportunities for the industry.
As Samantha puts it, “By simply taking a picture, our technology can capture, learn, and replicate the unique DNA or composition of the blend for the perfect cup of tea. This taste profile helps manufacturers, brokers, and exporters alike by setting a benchmark for quality. In turn, allowing us to negotiate higher prices for a valuable export crop.”
Past, present, and the promising future of SpectrifyAI
The idea for SpectrifyAI was born when Jeevan, Mike, and Samantha came together to fix the biggest problems in agriculture. Their initial discussions at Hatch identified the critical challenges faced by the industry were productivity and value addition. Afterwards, with their combined expertise in spectral analysis and AI, the company began developing its patented low-cost scanners.
Highlighting the promise of agri-tech in Sri Lanka, Jeevan said, “Despite a rich history and unmatched legacy of quality, Sri Lanka’s agriculture and plantation industries are yet to approach their full potential. Ultimately this is due to a lack of good data. While most view this as a challenge, we see a massive opportunity in deploying new tech to dissolve traditional bottlenecks, drastically optimise the cost of production, and ultimately recapture our nation’s reputation for the very highest quality tea, spices and herbs in the world.”
Seeking to maximise their impact, SpectrifyAI is currently focusing on Sri Lanka’s top 3 export crops – tea, herbs, and spices. Moving forward, the company aims to expand its range of agri-tech solutions to empower everyone involved in agriculture, from the field farmer to the tea factory owner.
Already countries like Israel have begun experimenting with agri-tech to increase the quantity and the quality of agricultural products. It’s examples like these that prove the untapped potential of Sri Lanka. By leveraging innovative technologies, SpectrifyAI aims to help the local farmers and manufacturers enter the digital future and unlock their untapped potential.
As Mike puts it, “The future of agriculture is technology, and it is already here today. The reductions in cost and growth in capabilities of spectral imaging analysis have the potential to be more impactful to global economies and societies than the Agricultural and Electronic revolutions combined. Using AI and spectral imaging, we are gaining the ability to standardise, systematise and optimize agricultural production on an unprecedented scale.”