Prabhal Mohandas was born and brought up in Kerala with a rich family history in agriculture. He, however, went on to pursue higher education and did his engineering as well as an MBA. He spent a good decade with the likes of HSBC and Reliance and then got the urge to come back to his roots to start an enterprise around agriculture. Belonging to the technology age, Prabhal realized the power of the mobile and web, and with the limited funds he had, he decided to set up an e-commerce channel under the banner of Daksh Farm.
At Daksh Farm, they practice a system of eco-farming which is a blend of traditional and conventional farming practices, and the main produce is whole grain ‘matta rice’. People in the region have been using this particular product for decades. “The product is full of goodness and I thought of sharing this with the world about 4-5 years ago,” says Prabhal. “The thought of a better value realization for our farm produce too ignited this startup,” says Prabhal.
Daksh Farm thus got a site and mobile application as well late last year. “With our limited knowledge we can modestly boast that we are the first farm globally to use mobile technology for m-commerce. Growth and penetration of e-commerce technology and payment gateway services offered us the perfect ecosystem to initiate this business,” he adds.
Daksh Farms also sells via Flipkart and uses India Post for delivering the product via their portal. “We help people who produce organic matta rice sell their produce on our website too. In a few months’ time, we will be shifting a good part of our rice farms to organic. Our coconut, papaya and mango produce are organic,” says Prabhal. The plan is to introduce small quantities of arrowroot, ginger and turmeric in the farm next season. The online channel still contributes marginally but coming online has ensured that their reach increases and they now have inquiries from Canada and USA as well.
“In 2014, we want to introduce organic rice frylets and rice noodles. These products we hope will help farmers realize better value and this higher value realization will encourage more farmers to grow organically,” says Prabhal. The intentions are good but Daksh has its own set of challenges that every small business faces -- reaching more customers and working with limited funds. We’ve seen this trend growing as more people are feeling the urge to go back to the basics. Folks like Prabhal and Suresh Iyer of Akshaya Home Farms exemplify this. We recently wrote about Kamal Kisan which wants to help small farmers with innovative products and we also conducted a meetup with Vodafone on Agriculture.
From this meetup, we got some interesting results:
- Although Indian agriculture ranks 2nd worldwide in farm output, it has had a steady decline in the contribution of India’s GDP
- Agripreneurs are bringing in lots of innovations in the Agriculture startup ecosystem, redefining the categories, processes which they follow and the targeted audience
- Although there have been various innovations regarding agriculture in the past, adoption of Internet and Mobile technologies and enabling collaboration have definitely enabled newer opportunities
- Bringing in talented workforce and gaining government support are major milestones to cross for this sector
Here is the complete infographic and more details.