Japan’s Sagri secures $1.4M to roll out satellite-based solutions for farmers

From left: CTO Takashi Tanaka, CEO Shunsuke Tsuboi, COO Shu Masuda, Real Tech Fund CEO Yukihiro Maru
Image credit: Sagri

See the original story in Japanese.

Sagri, the Japanese startup behind a satellite-based agricultural analytics platform under the same name, announced on Wednesday that it has secured 155 million yen (about $1.4 million US) in its latest round. This round is led by Real Tech Fund with participatioin from Minato Capital, Senshu Ikeda Capital, Hiroshima Venture Capital, and Hyogo Kobe Startup Fund (managed by Bonds Investment Group, Hyogo Prefecture, and Kobe City). This is the first investment for Hyogo Kobe Startup Fund.

For Sagri, this follows their angel round securing funds from Hiroya Hanafusa (CEO of Alan Products) plus Glocalink back in January of 2019 and another round funding based on the J-KISS scheme back in April of 2010. The gap between their current capital amount and the size of the latest round allows us to estimate how much they have secured in the past rounds. The round stage is considered to be a seed round.

CEO Tsuboi delivered a pitch at Demo Day of Rock Thailand 2nd batch in Bangkok in December of 2019.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Sagri gets soil conditions (corrosion content) using satellite data and updates on farm products and varieties from farmers to create a blockchain-powered database. Putting these altogether, the company tells farmers how to improve soil conditions from biological, chemical and physical viewpoints in addition to offering them with accurate measurement to help farmers get more harvest. They have also developed a scoring scheme evaluating farmland by soil conditions data and macro data of corrosion content.

Conventional methods measuring nitrogen in soil were expensive while the company has succeeded in lowering the cost using satellite data. Focused on what, rice and sugar cane, the technology can give farmers harvest prediction and advise them how much fertilizer they should use. By sending all these insights to financial institutions, the company encourages them give loans to local farmers in India while the Japanese government leverages the technology to determine the status of fallow fields to see if then can resume cultivation.

Image credit: Sagri

Inspired on their own service rolled out in India, the company has the Actaba platform to help detect abandoned fields. In Japan, local government officials keep visiting and checking their area to find abandoned fields. However, based on the wavelength data obtained from satellites, Sagri’s AI-based technology has improved to determine whether the land is abandoned or not with over 90 percent accuracy, leading to more efficient work. More than 10 city governments all across the country, including Tsukuba, Kobe, Nagoya, and Kaga, are planning to start demonstration tests within this year.

Another pillar of Sagri’s business is the AI polygon to curate and manage accuurate plots of farmlands. In Japan, plots are manually drawn on the lanp map provided by the Agricultural Ministry but inaccurate map data may cause danger for applications such as aerial fertilizer spraying by autonomous drone flight. The company is planning to accelerate its farming business by plotting farmland in various regions in Japan, India, and Thailand. It will use satellite data to obtain data such as carbon, nitrogen content and pH in farmlands, aiming to help improve the efficiency of fertilization process.

Sagri were qualified for the MUFG Digital Accelerator 4th Batch and the 500 Kobe 3rd Batch followed by attending the 2nd batch of Rock Thailand, a cross-border open innovation event organized by the Embassy of Japan in Thailand and CP Group, one of the largest conglomerate in Thailand.