Precision Farming Asia, backed by Proterra Investment Partners, is a Singapore-headquartered global AgTech platform. Proterra Investment Partners is a leading global Private Equity Fund (~US$4.0 billion in committed capital) with specialist insights in food & agriculture. Precision Farming Asia is the lead investor in “Simply Fresh”, which has commissioned India’s largest precision farming site, the “Plant Factory”. The “Plant Factory” is a state-of-art facility with a land area of ~140 acres and located 110 km north of Hyderabad. The facility comprises 26 acres of operational polyhouses, APEDA certified packhouse, 6-acre man-made waterbody and support infrastructure (dormitories & canteen).
Simply Fresh is a one-stop leader providing healthy, fresh, and high-quality agricultural produce ranges in nutraceutical plants, herbs, leafy greens, microgreens, and vine crops for direct consumption and nutraceutical usage. The greenhouses support some of the most effective growing techniques- benches, gutters, and pots which are further supported by AI-driven fertigation and irrigation systems. Simply Fresh is a technology-driven, precision farming company that uses innovation and recognized global farming techniques to facilitate sustainable agriculture. Simply Fresh prides itself on using AI with insights into plant physiology to develop better farming practices that do not exhaust natural resources and maintain the nutritional value of the produce.
Research & Development
The Head Scientist is responsible for delivering R & D strategies as developed by Executive Committee of Simply Fresh. The main objective is to develop best practices technology and adopt product design through screening, evaluation for better delivery of robust and quality product for the customers of Simply Fresh. This position aligns Simply Fresh product delivery with various customers and external stakeholders with the slate of products relating to Leafy Greens, vine and Nutra products. It is required to oversee research on yield improvement, cost reduction, varietal unlock and use of new technologies to achieve the desired characteristics in a crop.
Roles & Responsibilities
- Supporting the management team to identify strategic R & D requirements in agronomy, farming system, soil and nutrition.
- Ensure that strategic plans accurately capture the primary issues in each R & D fields and provide details required to build appropriate technical strategies.
- Responsible for identifying communication opportunities and collaborating with grower team to work on productivity enhancement, cost minimization, Quality improvement and better reliability of production.
- Develop SOP for crop production, nutrition and IPM for delivery of quality and standard product to market at lower cost of goods.
- Develop SOP for Post-harvest management including sorting, grading, drying, packing, cold chain and till last mile logistics for quality and reliability of products and minimize wastage.
- Train all the stake holders to ensure implementation of SOPs, Agronomic observations, practices and documentation.
- Sourcing, screening and grow out of new products to see robustness of the same for production and create a collaborative project with Seed suppliers and internal stakeholders for providing best Quality product with good Gross Margin.
- Lead the current and future projects with R & D as approved by Executive Committee to support business goals.
- Determine and execute improved technologies used by suppliers, competitors, and customers.
- Research design and evaluate materials, assemblies, process, and equipment.
- Timely and accurate biochemical analysis and reporting of results for Quality decision making.
- Proactively identify project issues and appropriately manage them to satisfaction of stakeholder’s business goals, monitor, measure and report the performance of the field.
- Manage the R & D infrastructure, plant and equipment as required.
- Liaison with Government, Universities and regulatory agencies and private corporations to develop and commercialize new products and ensure its registrations as per regulations.
- Liaison with government bodies like ICAR and leading agricultural universities and be aware of latest agronomical developments.
- Manage the negotiation of overall price for contracts and that all projects are completed within set budget guidelines.
- Plan and execute research on unlocking new varietals of the crops planned by the strategy team.
- Advise the leadership and the RD lead on the crops to be taken up for RD.
- Develop agronomical practices that ensure cost and time efficiencies while making sure of high-quality output with minimal time and effort required to implement the practices.
- IP creation: Apply for patents to generate and protect IP that is permissible as per Indian laws
- Collaboration with other teams and partnership with external bodies.
- Advise farm ops team on deviant behavior of the crops (like slower than expected growth, root development, deficiencies etc.)
- Collaborate with farm operations team to train on new approved practices.
- Document all phases of research and development and collaborate with IT team to prepare best-in-class tools to record, analyze and report the developments and outputs of the trials.
- Partner with research teams of vendors for new age technologies to run trials.
Education and Experience
- Postgraduate in Agriculture with minimum 5 to 10 years of experience in Breeding, TD or PD of Vegetable or Nutraceuticals.
- PhD in Vegetable Science or Nutraceuticals with 10 years of experience are preferred.
- Proven track record of managing multiple RD initiatives across multiple crops
- Awareness of Indian Agri landscape weather, soil, varietals with an added advantage for the experience with new Agri technologies (like hydroponics) etc.
- Demonstrated ability to effectively work on diverse teams and to actively participate in collaborative efforts.
- Conducting Grow out test of different crop varieties of Field & Vegetable crops.
- Good Breeding, Agronomy and Technology and Product Development skills.
- Knowledge of Computer operating skill (MS Office, Excel & PPT etc.)
- Knowledge of seed production field quality validation & Monitoring skill of Field & Vegetable crops.
- Ability for DOE, develop Hypotheses, data collection, analysis, interpretation and logical conclusion.
- Precise decision-making ability.
- Ability to handle the large team of qualified professionals.
- Good communication skill through mail, letter & verbal.
- Good time management & leadership skill.
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