India is one of the major producers of food in the world; it is also one of the largest consumers of food. Agriculture has huge potential to drive our nation’s economy, yet many indications clearly convey that there are many areas that have not been completely explored. (You can check out about the potential of Indian agri business here) For instance, we can take an example of Kokum, which is a naturally growing fruit, mainly found in western ghat & Konkan area. Kokum is a rare fruit which is has huge scope of value addition for farmers.
Shrikrishna shares that kokum fruit can be used for soft drink preparation, used as an ingredient in many locally made traditional dishes, very useful medicine for Acidity, obesity etc. Butter extracted from seeds of this fruit is the only butter, which will be in ‘solid state’ in room temperature and this butter is very good medicine for dry skin disease. This butter is also used in making candles. Likewise, there are many such crops, which can be of immense value add to farmers, by also helping them by means of adding extra source of income to their family.
Shrikrishna Hegde Ullane, the founder of ConnectFarmer identified this pain point early on during his college days and was keen on addressing this problem. He did his schooling in kannada medium school and currently pursuing Social Entrepreneurship Diploma from Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad. Being bought up in Bidrakan village, he noticed that a lot of his friends were getting attracted to city life and one of the main reasons being job opportunities.
So he started doing some research in the area of agriculture and figured that there were many products which are produced by farmers with huge market potential, yet untapped by most farmers. Some farmers who produced such products would find it difficult to market themselves, as APMC’s focuses only on a few agriculture products. Hence such products were not reaching the consumer in spite of high demand for such products in the market. For example, there is market assistance for areca nut whereas value added product produced from areca and such other products may not get marketing support by APMC. Hence it does not motivate farmers to produce value addition for their products.
Shrikrishna shares “It’s not just the story of Kokum and its value added products, there are thousands of products which are suffering due to lack of marketing such as Jack papad, Jack Chips, Areca leaf plate, Areca leaf cup, Areca leaf Cap etc”.
To address this challenge, he created an online space where farmers, small & cottage industries can publish the details of their products with photos so that the prospective customers could get the details of products and its specialty and availability. ConnectFarmer works as a link between farmers and consumer. Farmers and small scale and cottage industries could find the market with the help of this new means of communication which opens up the new vista of marketing of value added agriculture products and thereby also safeguarding the interest of both the farmer and consumer.
Currently ConnectFarmer is addressing two of the biggest pain points in agriculture marketing.
1. Visibility for farmers/cottage industry over larger audience. Consumers can get detailed information on lots of value added agricultural products produced by farmers.
2. Helps consumers find the right producers/manufacturers for their products of interest. They can easily connect with each other with the help of ConnectFarmer.
He aims to take this platform across India to reach out to many such farmers and cottage industries. He believes, “Agriculture can become profitable if we increase the share of farmers in value chain. Value addition can create more employment opportunities in rural area”.
You can reach out to Shrikrishna on mail.