For the tea industry, dominated by small growers, the introduction of AI has been on a very low keel. However, AgNext in 2018 changed the paradigm for the tea industry through an AI based application called TragNext and a pilot was set up in association with Tea Research Association to bring about qualitative improvements in the fine leaf count- the determinant factor for price realization for the tea industry.

The idea of an AI-based solution to be installed at TRA was with the understanding that the manual methods of FLC & computing price, which neither is a win-win situation for the grower or the buyer would certainly help in reinventing the complete value chain associated with tea. It is on account of the fact that TRAGNEXT is the first of its kind solution that automatically determines the fine leaf count without human intervention, removing subjectivity, reducing the process to seconds, and improving overall accuracy.

It took two years for the industry to be inspired by the initiative undertaken by TRA to install the TragNext as the determining factor for price valuation. The initial deployments have been done in tea estates of prestigious clients like Goodricke, Rossell Tea, and Bokahola Tea. The Tea Board of India has installed this solution in West Bengal and Assam. The demand was phenomenal, therefore TRAGNEXT is now deployed in CISTA, the hub of Small Tea Growers at Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal.

Underlining the importance of TRAGNEXT in FLC, Tea Board of India & TRA Chairman Mr. Prabhat K Bezboruah contended that TRAGNEXT is a disruptive technology and will disrupt the tea industry by providing an AI-based fine leaf count, a process that never happened with the tea industry during the last 40 years. He also hoped that FLC would improve tea exports by establishing fair price models.

Goodricke Group Ltd-  one of the front runner companies which have adopted TRAGNEXT  is of the view that  “Fine Leaf Count is a very important aspect in the tea industry. To do an accurate & immediate check on the quality and eliminate human errors, this machine will be beneficial for the whole tea industry.”

Now that TRAGNEXT is getting traction and endorsement for the big players it is high time that the Nano version should be made mandatory for every factory which has a 30000 kg intake.

So far, the paradigm of growth in the tea industry has been lop-sided and it is the economic sector which is growing at the cost of popular and premium categories- which are the source of revenue. With TRAGNEXT facilitating FLC at a faster pace, it should inspire other players to adopt it for FLC as the customer of the present times is looking at qualitative aspects in tea which should have an endorsement of technology to underline it.

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