23-year-old IIT Delhi alumnus Anu Meena is building a farm to business agritech startupVallabh Rao
The seven-month-old startup comprising young people is using technology to bridge farmers and businesses. They have raised an undisclosed amount in a seed round and are clocking sales of more than Rs 50,000 in a day.
From a small village Manoli in Rajasthan, Anu Meena grew up watching her farmer grandfather face challenges in selling his produce. She started to think of ways to solve his problems such as attaining a fair price for his vegetables with the aid of technology. But for Anu, it wasn’t just about her grandfather or a single farmer: “It’s about India's 13 percent GDP which comes from agriculture — a sector which is highly unorganised. The incorporation of technology for organising it will take time,” says Anu.
With an aim to provide the best price to farmers by eliminating middlemen, Anu started AgroWave seven months ago. The idea behind this venture is to optimise agriculture supply chain using research, analytics, and technology.
Anu teamed up with her batchmate from IIT Delhi, Payal Jawalkar, who supervises analytics at AgroWave, and with Arun Yadav, who has more than six years of experience in agriculture supply chain and now heads operations at AgroWave.
The startup procures fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers and distributes them directly to businesses. For this, it uses analytics to match demand and supply, by predicting the demand using previous data (volume, products, frequency, etc).
The organisation is based in Gurgaon and gets the supply from farmers in Panipat, Sonipat, Harpur, and Rajasthan. Explaining how their pricing is better for the farmers, Anu says, “In the current system, an agent in the village buys the produce and sells it at the local mandi, and then it goes to businesses. We provide better prices because we procure directly from them. For instance, if a farmer sells potatoes for Rs 3-4 per kg, we pay him Rs 5 per kg — a 25 percent increase which is significant.”
AgroWave has more than 30 steady customers who are caterers, retail shops, restaurants, and canteens. It is clocking a daily sale of around Rs 50,000.
Their app is in the process of development; the team plans to launch a farmer app as well as a customer app in two months. They also want to start delivering vegetables and fruits to Rajasthan after six months. “We will train farmers so that they can sell their products by themselves. We plan to tie up with government initiatives and farmer producer organisations (FPOs) for this. We also provide logistics support to the farmers who are not able to make such arrangements for themselves,” says Anu.
AgroWave has raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Daffodil Software, founded by Yogesh Agarwal, who has helped the startup since their early days. The funds will be used for operations and developing the technology.
Speaking of the challenges she has faced in running the startup, the young entrepreneur says – “As of now, we are not using any third party for logistics, so that is one challenge. Quality mapping is the other. Mapping the quality as per customer need is a difficult task and it takes time. It’s not easy to reach out to each farmer; we have onboarded around 50 farmers but doing this on a large scale is difficult. We want to tie up with the government so that we can associate with more farmers.”
While farm-to-table businesses that intend to give value to both consumers and farmers have been mushrooming across Indian metros, they haven’t managed to scale and make a significant dent in the current procurement system. AgroWave is differentiating itself by targeting businesses and operating as a farm-to-business player.