Aryan Rajvanshi, a 16-year-old coding enthusiast and a Grade 11 student at Anand Niketan International School in Ahmedabad, Gujarat is making life easy for farmers.
(February 3, 2024) When he was on the way to Udaipur in June 2021, Aryan Rajvanshi heard of two farmers who committed suicide due to their inability to repay a meagre loan of Rs. 70000. He soon realised that this is a widespread challenge that affects many farmers in India who struggle with poverty and debt. It motivated him to look for tech-based solutions to help address the problem, and he found MechaCrop. “I decided to use my coding and development skills to create a solution that can improve the lives of farmers,” the Global Indian says.
His initiative MechaCrop, uses drones and artificial intelligence to help farmers diagnose and prevent crop diseases, monitor crop growth, yield, and quality, and provide timely and accurate information. The idea is to help reduce crop losses, increase yield and ensure and ensure higher income for millions of farmers, thus preventing suicides.
“MechaCrop uses a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) model, a branch of Machine learning that I developed using Python. The model was trained with over 5,000+ images of apple rot, tomato blight, and corn rust diseases and tested the model in the field using a drone that captured images of crops and fed them to the model. The model identified diseased leaves with 96 percent accuracy,” he says.
Born in London, UK, Rajvanshi has lived across various countries in Europe and Asia with his parents and sister, Aisha. He discovered his passion for tech after spending a few weeks at a technology camp in Haifa, Israel, where he learned about the latest innovations in different fields, agriculture included. “I have mastered several programming languages, such as C, C++, and Java, and am currently honing my skills in Python,” he says. He also scored a perfect 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science A exam. On the academic front, he has been among the toppers at his school, apart from being a School Prefect and Model United Nations (MUN) winner.
Aryan’s project has received international acclaim and he was one of the only two project leaders from India selected to be part of the 07th Edition of 1M1B Activate Impact Summit 2023 UN Summit 2023, a global initiative that supports young innovators who are solving the world’s most pressing problems. As part of the program, an inspirational documentary based on Aryan’s project was showcased at the summit, where he received a standing ovation from the audience.
“It was an incredible experience to present my project at the 1M1B Activate Impact Summit at the UN, NYC, on 30th Nov 2023. I was honoured to have the presence and appreciation of the Ambassador of India to the UN Ruchira Kamboj, the Chief of NGO Branch Wookjin Chang, and the Director of Outreach Maher Nasser,” he recollects. A six-minute documentary on his journey and MechaCrop, was showcased at the UN NYC followed by an interaction with the esteemed participants which was inspiring and encouraging. “Declared as a “Purpose Rebel” leader, it reinforced my commitment to SDG Goal 2 of Zero Hunger,” he adds.
He plans to scale his model by collaborating with local NGOs, government agencies, and private companies that work in the field of agriculture and rural development. He is hoping to reach out to as many farmers as possible and provide them with access to MechaCrop’s services.
“I also want to improve my model by adding more use cases, such as weather forecasting, soil quality assessment, and crop insurance. I have overcome many challenges along the way, such as lack of data, technical glitches, and logistical issues. The experience has provided immense learning in developing resilience, resourcefulness, and being adaptable in the face of difficulties. I have also sought help from mentors, experts, and peers who have guided me and supported me throughout my journey,” Aryan explains.
He also shares that his journey has come with several lessons, the foremost being that passion is the key to success. “If you love what you do, you will find a way to do it well. Technology can be a powerful tool for social good. It can solve real-world problems and make a positive impact on people’s lives,” Aryan remarks. He also admits that purpose channelises one’s effort and energy for the greater good.
“Having found the purpose to support farmers and sustainable farming in India, has given a direction early on to my work. Empathy is a crucial skill for finding real-world solutions.” In fact, Aryan worked closely with farmers for months as he built MechaCrop, to gain a firsthand understanding of the challenges they face. “Their long, tedious working day, their lack of resources, and their struggle for basics was an eye-opener,” he adds.
In his free time, he likes to unwind with Netflix or play video games on his PS4 console with his sister. “My favourite game is Elden Ring, which is a challenging and immersive adventure. I am also a certified advanced scuba diver, which allows me to explore the amazing world underwater. I have done more than 30 dives in different locations, and I always look forward to seeing new sights and creatures,” he smiles.
Looking ahead, he plans to pursue higher education in the USA, where he wants to major in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. “I believe these fields have immense potential and applications in various domains. After completing my studies, I want to return to India and dedicate my career to helping the farmers who have inspired me to create MechaCrop. I believe that by saving even one life, I can make a difference in the world,” he signs off.