2 Arizona small businesses receive USDA grant money for disaster response, agriculture projects

Aug 25, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: 8:10 pm

A sign of United States Department of Agriculture is seen on USDA building in Washington D.C., Unit...

A sign of United States Department of Agriculture is seen on USDA building in Washington D.C., United States on June 21, 2023. (Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Two Arizona small businesses are receiving money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support research that addresses critical scientific challenges and opportunities in agriculture, the department announced Wednesday.

A total of 76 businesses around the country will receive a portion of over $12.5 million as a part of the USDA’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

Hydronalix Inc., based in Green Valley, Arizona, and Gilbert-based Padma AgRobotics LLC will receive $131,491 and $181,500 respectively.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to investing, growing and supporting small businesses through increased market opportunities that also strengthen the food system nationally and locally,” Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, chief scientist and under secretary for research, education and economics said in a press release.

“Science-based innovations from federally funded research, often developed through public-private partnerships, create products and services that increase productivity and enhance global competitiveness for the U.S. agriculture sector.”

Solving disaster response issues in rural areas

For Hydronalix, the funds will go toward its Humanitarian Emergency Response Messenger of Essential Supplies (HERMES) project.

The company will design a low-cost (less than $2,000 each) interchangeable modular drone attachments called HERMES.

The attachments will assist with disaster response in rural areas to help rural populations and governments survive while waiting for rescue from first responders.

HERMES will help in situations like flooding, physical blockages or lack of resources. The device will be capable of delivering medicine food, medical, water and other critical supplies to medical communities.

In addition, HERMES will provide depth and cell amplifiers for rural populations facing an emergency.

Efficient harvesting

Padma AgRobotic’s project will go toward an autonomous harvester for cilantro with bunching and tying capability.

Along with cilantro, the harvester will be used for other specialty crops that are harvested in bunches.

The company said the labor costs take up to 50% of total costs and automating the task would reduce expenses for farms by 40%-50%.

The project will also tackle a huge labor shortage affecting the agricultural industry. In addition, it will reduce the need to import crops and make the U.S. more competitive, the company stated.

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2 Arizona small businesses receive USDA grant money for disaster response, agriculture projects