DeHaat’s Co-Founder & CEO, Shashank Kumar, on the evolving agri space of India

In this episode of Prime Venture Partners Podcast, Shashank Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO of DeHaat shares DeHaat's journey so far and sheds light on the growing agrosystems and the untapped opportunities it presents.

DeHaat’s Co-Founder & CEO, Shashank Kumar, on the evolving agri space of India

Sunday October 02, 2022,

4 min Read

In India, agriculture is a $350 billion market. The key problem faced by this market is a lack of transparency and efficiency, besides other issues like building economies of scale for small farmers.  

DeHaat, appears to be a one-stop solution for Indian farmers, defined this problem and has been acting as a bridge between businesses and farmers for more than a decade now.

"So that means the overall sample size of the problem statement is humongous, and hence if you build the right model, scalability is not a question. And at the same time, the impact quotient is going to be huge. So I think these were the two first thoughts when we started considering this sector," Shashank recalls.

A glimpse into DeHaat's journey 

One of the early stage challenges faced by them was getting acceptance from farmers. So, to understand where the farmers are coming from, they switched to this  perspective. "And that’s when we learned that these farmers don’t have the risk-taking ability. If you want them to change the cropping pattern, you are proposing that because that may give them better returns, but they see that more from a risk perspective. This helped us to build a farmer’s first approach or thesis for DeHaat."

This was also the time when they learnt that this sector was not a new sector and to gain the trust of the industry, they will have to deliver first. And as the model started working and it was time to scale, another challenge they faced was of convincing the investors what their business model was and the opportunity it presented. 

What's next in agriculture?

There are primarily, three main things which have contributed to the growth of this sector are - one, the general physical and digital infrastructure. Setting up warehouses and processing or collection centres along with digitisation of processes and its access to all is becoming easier regardless of the location of the state. 

Second - is the policy framework set by policies like Jan Dhan and United Payments Interface (UPI), which has helped farmers think about  digital transactions along with mainstream transactions or communication.

And finally, t the entire global ecosystem realises the need to collaborate with agri-tech platforms for a larger reason. "Globally everyone realised that it is not possible to reach out to smallholders for any of us and hence, we need the right platform or an alternative channel of distribution or aggregation. This is very important from a food safety or security perspective," Shashank explains.    

New startup opportunities

Shashank highlights that the agri-space presents ample opportunities, so much so that even after the emergence of hundreds of new agri-tech startups in the last 3-4 years, there are still few untapped opportunities. 

"Even as of date, you will not find even a single model which is tailor-made for farmers financing. There are several NBFCs and FinTech players, but they are still B2B, FPOs, retailers, and processors. A farmer-friendly FinTech model is still yet to be seen, yet to emerge," Shashank explains. 

Then comes the insurance side. Whether it’s weather insurance or crop insurance or yield insurance, that’s another area to be explored. 

The third is the agri bio. The entire world is moving away from chemicals and it would be ideal to reduce India's import dependency on biofertilizers and pesticides. Last but not least is the overall digital extension or digital advisory of farmers, as the farmers today have the right device and the willingness to pay.

You can listen to the full episode here

Time stamps:

05:20 - “We Started when AgriTech was Agriculture”

14:40 - Scalability and Monetisation in AgriTech

23:00 - Role of Tech(Enabler or Revenue Generator)

37:10 - Managing Scale in a Fast Growing Startup

43:30 - New Startup Opportunities in AgriTech Space

Edited by Akanksha Sarma