Sowing seeds of growth on the cloud: How DeHaat is leveraging cloud technology to support Indian farmers
DeHaat worked with SAP to use their integrated cloud platform ‘RISE With SAP’ to help them adopt standard practices of supply chain and ERP, along with digitisation of associated processes and data.
India’s agritech sector is growing rapidly, backed by increased digitisation, government initiatives and investors’ interest. According to a study by Ernst & Young 2020, the Indian agritech market could reach $24 billion by 2025, while another study by Bain & Company claimed that they could be at $35 billion by 2025. These numbers only point towards the phenomenal rise of new-age companies, which are leveraging technology to make an impact in the sector. One of the fastest growing startups in the space is DeHaat, India’s homegrown largest full-stack technology-based business.
Launched in 2012, DeHaat is one of the very few companies providing end-to-end solutions tailored for the farming community. Shyam Sundar Singh, Co-founder,called themselves a ‘Direct to Farmer’ or D2F platform, born with the mission of ‘beej se bazaar tak’, or ‘from seeds to market’.
A farmer-first approach
Coming from agricultural families with supply chain work experience, the founders noticed that the agri supply chain is one of the largest and most exciting problem statements to solve, especially with the increasing penetration of technology. This led them to begin their journey in the agritech sector.
“At that time, we wanted to work at the farmers' front. We quickly realised that with more than 80 percent of farmers being small, marginal and medium, it is imperative to provide them a complete full stack support at the last mile and hence we began the entire DeHaat model of end-to-end agricultural value chain to farmers,” Shyam explained.
DeHaat offers a complete range of agricultural services to farmers, including distribution of high quality agri input products, customised farmer advisory, access to financial services as well as market linkage for selling their produce. The aim has been to create an impact in farmers’ lives by providing tech-enabled 360-degree solutions.
These solutions include agri input management system and agri output management system which helps their vendors and internal teams engage better. They also use deep tech, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning at the farm level, farmer level and at the value chain level. This aids them in offering their services in an integrated way to benefit farmers. Alongside this, they also have credit and insurance solutions, and account reporting and business analysis tools. Shyam noted that their solutions enable them to work towards the income enhancement of farmers, helping them improve their agricultural practices and produce at the same time.
Farmers can access these services through DeHaat’s mobile app and web app. The team has simultaneously worked on an application for their internal team with which they engage with farmers. “Through this we are providing multiple solutions related to their requirement, gathering and fulfilling financial services recording transactions at their end,” Shyam said.
The SAP impact
Shyam pointed out that the agri industry in India is valued at over $350 billion, and considering the size of this industry, DeHaat is at the start of their journey. Being robust and scalable at the same time is critical. He said that earlier DeHaat used to have standalone applications that needed integrated solutions. The second challenge they faced was meeting the compliances and audit requirements considering their size and the kind of state that they were getting into. Another key challenge was transitioning from manual effort to automation. And the final hurdle was the security and reporting aspect of data.
It became critical for them to leverage the power of cloud technologies. To that end, DeHaat worked with SAP to utilise the integrated cloud platform ‘RISE With SAP’. “We went on SAP to essentially adopt industry standard practices in supply chain and ERP, along with digitisation of associated processes and data. We needed support in streamlining our reporting, consolidating processes across business and finance operations, better governance of compliances and audit trails and doing all of this in an integrated platform considering our presence across the agri value chain,” revealed Shyam, adding that automated processes caused a reduction in manual efforts. He noted that managing operations on the cloud gives them better control, and provides them with an IT landscape that is both robust and scalable.
Another key factor that played a significant role in the partnership was SAP’s legacy. The DeHaat team noticed that SAP is the market leader with best in class expertise. They offer seamless processes and global standards of audit and compliance, and have top of the line business offerings, which can also be customised as per business processes. It might be interesting to note that already over 60 percent of India’s GDP touches an SAP system.
Looking back, he noted that the many collaborative discussions between DeHaat and SAP led to understanding the technologies and business processes. Based on this, the team prepared a blueprint. Post implementation, several training sessions were held to train users on the new platform. “It has been a good journey for us in terms of understanding how technology change management can be undertaken at an organisation,” he said.
Sanket Deodhar, VP - Unicorns & Digital Natives, SAP India explained, “India is traditionally an agrarian economy and the second largest gross agricultural producer in the world. According to various industry estimates, India loses around 20 percent of agricultural output due to fragmented logistics and complex supply chain processes. Agricultural innovations such as cloud technology and AI-enabled insights can take the guesswork out of farming practices and processes, with improved efficacies and operational agility. We are excited to work with DeHaat to revolutionize India’s farming supply chain and aid production efficiency through data-driven innovation.”
The way forward
The DeHaat journey began from the eastern parts of India. But in the last two years, the team has expanded to 11 states such Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Odisha, Haryana and Chhattisgarh. In the next stage of their journey, Shyam wants to build a presence in the southern states of India.
He insists the aim is to reach and support every farmer in the nation. They currently have a farmer base of 1.5 million and by 2027, they want to amplify this number to over 15 million farmers. Simultaneously, the team is also setting their sights on expanding globally with a focus on increasing their export footprints that will not only strengthen their presence in the global food supply chain, but also offer Indian farmers exposure to the global markets. Through this expansion, they also aim to expand their services such as crop insurance and farmer financing - both of which have been designed to serve as the one-stop financial backing that farmers seek to produce high quality crops which can also add value to their income.
“Our technical endeavors remain the key focus of enhancement and betterment in our journey to render top notch services to farmers who are associated with us which can help them increase their needs and improve their income from agricultural related activities,” signed off Shyam.