SPOTLIGHT | Winners of India's Tech Brew Hackathon Announced

2m | Jun 7, 2024

India’s Tocklai Tea Research Institute in Jorhat announced the winners of a Tech Brew Hackathon competition hosted on International Tea Day. The winning students received 50,000 rupees for tackling their choice of five industry challenges. Teams from 20 universities participated, submitting projects addressing tea waste, marketing and promotion, and climate change. A panel of nine tea industry experts judged the projects.

The top three teams are Team Orthodox, representing the Assam Science & Technology University with a novel non-chemical pest control solution; the second prize goes to Team Neuro Linga at the PSG Institute of Technology and Applied Research in Coimbatore for designing an integrated weather and crop health monitoring system. Team Doodle, also from PSG, proposed a network of sensors that monitor plant conditions for growers, signaling areas of concern. A resource website with a chatbot informed by a machine-learning AI model will assess their concerns and suggest remedies.

The winning students Pranjit Barman and Pragyan Sen Deka designed a drone-mounted hyperspectral imaging eye that roams tea gardens, searching for indications of pest infestations. Suspended below the drone is a smoke chamber that delivers natural fumigants that pests avoid.

Fumigating crops with low-hanging smoke is an ancient, effective, and non-chemical method of driving pests away. In this segment, winning team leader Pragyan Sen Deka narrates how a modern “Spectro Smoke” generator heats ferns and grass with electrically controlled nichrome wire, producing a downward-driven column of smoke that rises to the underside of leaves and drives away pests like the tea mosquito, one of several insects that reduces tea yields in India by an estimated 147 million kilos a year.

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