[Startup Bharat] How Pirpanti-based Agrifeeder is helping farmers make informed decisions
Coming from an agricultural family, brothers Rounak Kumar and Raman Kumar realised the challenges in the agri sector from an early age. Raman, who completed his MBA from ISBR Business School, was introduced to entrepreneurship during a seminar in his college.
Raman discussed the idea with Rounak, who completed his engineering from Anna University, and decided to launch their own business in the agritech sector.
Speaking with YourStory, Rounak explains the duo realised that the major challenge of the farmers was financial issues.
Image Credit: Agrifeeder
In 2017, Raman and Rounak along with Priya Pandey launched Agrifeeder, based out of Pirpanti, Bihar, to provide agricultural assistance to the farmers and safeguard them from the issues of middlemen or landowners.
“One of the major challenges is that who do we define as farmers? The landowners or the field workers? After thorough research, we realised that government agricultural benefits, subsidies, etc., mostly go to the landowners and not the field farmers themselves. So for those who do farming by renting someone else’s land might not get the government benefits at all,” Rounak tells YourStory.
He explains that apart from availing finances, farmers also face challenges for the storage, purchasing of raw materials, and farming assistance among others.was launched to solve these problems and empower the farmers.
Rounak explains that Agrifeeder supports farmers in five main aspects -- Storage facilities; purchase of grains and fertilisers; farming training and assistance; implementation of organic farming, and financial assistance.
“Agrifeeder is aimed at supporting farmers in every aspect starting from the training of the farmers about new technologies, farming techniques, providing good quality seeds and fertilisers to pre-harvest marketing and post-harvest management,” he adds.
The co-founder explains that Agrifeeder provides warehousing facilities to the farmers to store their grains safely. Farmers signing up for storage facilities get a Farmer Warehousing Agreement issued from the startup.
This agreement can be further utlised by the farmers to avail short-term bank loans against the current price of the quantity of grains stored in the warehouse for financial assistance. With easy access to bank loans, farmers will be able to reduce their dependency on private money lenders.
Apart from this, the startup also ensures the delivery of high-quality grains to farmers at competitive prices. The startup provides training to farmers on farming techniques, correct use of chemicals and fertilisers to improve productivity, and also on deciding on prices of the produce.
The startup is also training the farmers to produce their own organic fertilisers and encouraging them to take up organic farming. “We are training farmers to produce their own organic fertilisers, which they can use themselves and also sell the extra thereby ensuring another source of income,” he says.
Apart from this, in July 2020, the startup worked with the farmers to launch its own lemongrass immunity booster tea product, which can be ordered through Agrifeeder’s official WhatsApp number.
Illustration: YS Design
Business and more
Speaking about the business model, Rounak explains the farmers need to pay Rs 1,500 for availing all the five services for one year. Apart from this, the farmers also need to pay rent for the warehousing facility as per the area rented.
“In January this year, we got our seed fund from Government of Bihar under Startup Bihar Policy,” he says. Currently, Agrifeeder is working with 80 farmers across Bihar.
He explains that one of the major challenges faced by the startup is that not many farmers are understanding the importance of technology services and their advantages.
According to Rounak, the startup competes with Patna-based, which provides farmers with access to over 3,200 agricultural inputs, AI-based customised crop advisory content, and disease management.
Speaking about future plans, Rounak says, “We are looking to on-board more farmers under our platform and are also looking to launch more of our own products like the lemongrass tea.”