[mSocial Ventures] Nano Ganesh Powered by Mobile Phones to Empower Farmers; 15,000 Installations Done
With 20% rainfall deficit in 2012, better water management systems are necessary especially for farmers in the country. While mobile phones are being used to provide information to farmers on educating them, interestingly mobile technologies have also been in use in the last 2 years to provide better water resource management system to farmers. Nano Ganesh is a mobile installation by Ossian that allows farmers to switch on and switch off their motors remotely. They avoid almost 7kms journey every day travelling to the fields to switch on and switch off the water supply to the fields.So far, Nano Ganesh has been installed in 15000+ field across in five states in India – Maharashtra, AP, MP, Punjab and Rajasthan and Gujarat as one belt apart from the installations in Egypt, Tanzania, Australia and Bhutan. One nano ganesh installation has social and economic impact on 8 persons – farmer, farmer’s family, farmer’s operators and a local person called the agro-electronics commando (rural technician) who installs and provides support for Nano Ganesh.
Of course the question of support arose with the farmers. “Initially we used to ask the farmers to send the product directly to our Pune factory in case of repairs or servicing at least till the distribution network is set up in their area. But real farmers don’t have the urban reach so we need to give them education to manage the product. The good thing is the farmers have recovered min 50k-60k in labour and fuel charges,” says Santosh Ostwal, Founder, Ossian.
The cost of each Nano Ganesh ranges from Rs.560 to 2800 depending on the model. There are two tiers of distribution for the product through direct sales to customers who get in touch with the company and there are also dealers (300+) who retail Nano Ganesh to the farmers. The product is marketed through national ads in newspapers and magazines on electronic products.
The biggest challenge that Nano Ganesh faces right now is lack of funding. “I didn’t get VC funding in the last two year. We were in talks with the VCs but they wanted numbers every month. That is difficult in this field considering that it requires time to educate farmers and for them to test the product and build trust with us and our product,” shares Santosh.
Apart from the challenge of funding, the recent rainfall deficit has also affected the business for this startup that caters to farmers who are directly affected by the drought. With water pumps being used only off season or for horticulture, the market for the product becomes even more skewed with fall in the level of rainfall in the country during this period. “Irrigation is continued till July end usually in all states. Even in May, the scarcity was felt and there was no water in June & July. There was no water in the soil to pump. It directly affects water pump related businesses. When farmers are in low mood, we can’t act commercial and expect them to invest in our product even though technology can help them with better water management system,” explains Santosh Ostwal. There will also be a likely spill over with 10%-20% of their business getting affecting even in 2013 till the monsoons set in.
But that is not deterring Nano Ganesh from moving forward with their vision. They are in talks with 2 MNCs to build business plans to scale in a much bigger way.