AgriBazaar, Crofarm, Unnati – these agritech startups are empowering Indian farmers in times of coronavirus
India, with 118.7 million farmers, which accounts for more than half of its population, depends on agriculture as its primary source of income. With the unprecedented coronavirus-led lockdown, many farmers were left with no option but to sell their produce at dirt cheap prices.
Undoubtedly, the farming community is one of the worst hit during the lockdown, with issues like severe disruptions in the supply chain of farm produce and closing down of the local mandis, markets, and transport facilities.
With Lockdown 2.0, the rules were eased out and a slew of measures were introduced by the government to assist farmers ahead of the harvest season.
However, despite the assurance, things on ground were moving slowly with the absence of delivery fleet and truck operators, restricted inter-state and intra-state movement of agricultural machinery, dearth of other inputs like fertilisers, pesticides, and seeds, as well as various obstacles in the procurement of fresh produce, resulting in the disruption of the supply chain.
To keep the supply chains functional, some of India’s agritech startups are lending a helping hand to the farming community through artificial intelligence, remote sensing, data analytics, and various Internet of Thing (IoT) devices.
YourStory brings to you few such startups that are helping the farmers to connect with buyers, including through retailers, ecommerce, and by even directly selling the produce to consumers.
As a full-stack agritech player, AgriBazaar has replicated the physical mandi (marketplace) to an e-mandi aggregator model, through which once a farmer registers and uploads his produce, buyers can place orders for the purchase. Once the deal is complete, AgriBazaar facilitates the logistics of picking up the produce from the farmer’s doorsteps and delivering it to the buyers’ warehouse.
AgriBazaar also helps buyers — from MNCs to small-scale industries — with better price discovery, and sellers with more targeted marketing of their produce. It charges a transaction fee from buyers, while farmers can sell their produce at no additional cost.
Amith Agarwal, Co-Founder and CEO AgriBazaar says, “Founded in 2016, the idea behind AgriBazaar is to deliver tech-enabled future-ready solutions to the farming community in a frictionless manner and revolutionise the way post-harvest management services are processed across the country. It is this vision that empowered AgriBazaar to facilitate Rs 9,000 crore (GMV) worth of transactions since its inception, making it one of India’s largest online agri-trading marketplaces.”
Farm-to-retail agritech startup Crofarm recently launched its social commerce venture OTIPY, to revolutionise the supply chain of fresh produce in India. OTIPY works closely with reseller partners, mainly women, to fulfill the demand of end consumers and facilitates the contactless doorstep delivery of fresh produce.
The company is working with 500+ partner resellers across Delhi-NCR and is already serving over 50,000 consumers. Through its robust end-to-end supply chain network, the best of the farm products is brought to consumers via social commerce model and the fresh produce reaches the doorstep in less than 12 hours.
Varun Khurana, Co-Founder and CEO, Crofarm says, “We started as a B2B model in 2016 and later got reshaped into a B2B2C OTIPY platform, powered by social commerce. The idea behind this platform is to build a scalable, demand-driven and tech-enabled supply chain for fresh produce operating at 35 percent gross margin. In this process, OTIPY/Crofarm aims to help three key stakeholders - farmers, resellers, and consumers.”
Unnati is a new-age fintech company offering farming lifecycle support to farmers across the country. Driven by data, the brand helps convert farmers into entrepreneurs by handholding them through every stage of the farming cycle with services such as working capital, purchasing the right seeds, nutrients and pesticides for crops, harvesting, and selling the crops.
Founded by industry veterans Ashok Prasad and Amit Sinha, Unnati’s app gives access to agri finance, knowledge support, choice of inputs, tracking farm lifecycle and access to buyers. The company’s predictive farming model acts as a guide for farmers, allowing them to make informed decisions regarding key aspects such as plant protection, weed management, nutrient usage, maximising output, and predicting market conditions, essentially setting them up for unparalleled success.
Amit Sinha, Cofounder, Unnati shares, “Unnati is on a mission to make farmers entrepreneurs. To achieve this, it provides farmers with special farmer accounts, access to markets across the country, working capital to ensure farm business expansion, and access to quality and branded inputs backed by knowledge and information to do the right thing at the right time in the farm. It helps farmers by reducing cost of inputs by up to 15 to 20 percent and improve income by up to another 15 percent.”
Full-stack agtech organisation CropIn Technology Solutions provides smart SaaS-based solutions to agribusinesses globally, to maximise productivity.
One of the several solutions that CropIn provides to the agricultural ecosystem is the Farm Management Solution. The fundamental aspect is the digitisation of the farm and farmer.
Founded in 2010 by Krishna Kumar, CropIn helps organisations map the supply chain and increase the productivity level of the farmer.
Speaking about the challenging COVID-19 times, Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO, CropIn said,
“For CropIn, one of the fundamental objectives of digitising farm activities was to enable a high level of transparency across the supply chain. CropIn’s solutions leverage satellite monitoring to detect anomalies and predict the health and yield of crops, keep a tab on changing weather conditions and provide appropriate weather-based advisory. As a result, farming communities and agribusiness can ensure a smooth flow of operations”.
In February, the Government of India partnered with the Bengaluru-based agritech startup to streamline the CCE (Crop Cutting Experiment) process and make it more accurate and scalable.
Delhi-based agri-tech startup Arya Collateral is among a few Indian startups whose business performance turned out to be positive amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Considering that storage restricts cash flow for the farmers, Arya started its own non-banking financial company (NBFC) that provides loans at an interest rate of 13.5 percent, much lower than any MFI or other NBFCs would charge. With proper KYC details, loans are sanctioned within five minutes of applying.
To sell the farm produce, the startup connects the farmers with agri-corporations such as ITC Limited, Cargill, Louis-Dreyfus Commodities, SAB Miller India, and Britannia.
Serving close to two lakh farmers, either directly or through FPOs on a B2C model, Arya Collateral has managed 30 lakh tonnes of produce across 1,500 of its warehouses across India.
Edited by Javed Gaihlot