Farmers are the backbone of the nation, with over 70 percent of Indian households still dependent on farming. However, over the last few decades, farmers have become the forgotten workers of the nation. Recent times have witnessed a boom in the agri-tech industry with several start-ups emerging to help India’s agricultural sector make rapid progress by bridging the existing gap through tech-led solutions and empowering farmers and herders to make sector more profitable. Let us look at how start-ups are disrupting the industry and empowering farmers digitally. These startups provide a wide variety of services to farmers – from providing farming equipment at affordable prices, to ensuring crop protection.
Below is a list of some of the most innovative and successful startups, revolutionising the agricultural community in India:
Founded in 2016, Agribazaar, which delivers technology-enabled solutions to over 2 lakh farmers now by helping them get better prices, has since the past month has hired 200 of the 350 planned hiring this year, even amid the lockdowns and massive retrenchments in almost all sectors of the economy. As part of its service diversification, leading farm marketplace Agribazaar is planning to play a larger role in the inputs space, including selling farm implements like harvesters. From December company will be supplying agri inputs like seeds and pesticides to farmers since the past one year through our agri-micropreneurs on a pilot basis. The company will also offer farm implements like harvesters through these micropreneurs, whose number will be increased to 10,000 in the next three years from the current 485. Agribazaar will soon enlist farmers of cash crops such as coffee, cardamom and pepper.
Otipy, a social commerce venture by Crofarm launched in February 2020 by Mr. Varun Khurana sources fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers across Haryana, UP, Delhi, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra. This makes the platform India’s first social commerce model that connects end consumers to farmers through a community of resellers and gives them the opportunity to earn a healthy commission while handling the last-mile delivery of fresh produce. Otipy has always remained committed to delivering fresh products to customers while creating newer avenues of income for farmers. The latest addition of farm fresh gur and white butter to the portfolio will further strengthen its vision, help the brand tap into more modern markets, and take it to new heights. This will also open up new untapped markets for farmers which will eventually increase their net income. The idea behind this platform is to build a scalable, demand-driven and tech-enabled supply chain for fresh produce operating at 35% gross margin. In this process, Otipy aims to help three key stakeholders – farmers, resellers and consumers.
Aadvik Foods procures camel milk from about 200 herders in different locations across Gujarat and Rajasthan, and collects between 800 and 1,000 litres a day. The liquid milk is sold to the end consumer in the frozen form, or it is freeze-dried and sold in the powder form. Herders who are now selling camel milk are benefitting from the extra income, and are more willing to keep an increasing number of animals. For instance, Sawant Devasi is a herder in the Gandhinagar area of Gujarat, and is now supplying about 55 litres every day to Aadvik Foods. Before he started supplying milk to Aadvik, he had only 15 camels. Now that he has getting a steady income, and with steady demand for the milk, he has bought more camels and have a total of 35 today.
Oxen Farm Solutions
Founded in 2012, Oxen Farm Solutions aims to boost India’s agricultural productivity by ensuring farming equipment is made affordable and accessible. According to Founder Vishwajeet Sinha, the company brings all the parties involved – the farmers, the farming equipment manufacturers, and the government policies – on to one platform. Oxen provides equipment for various services, including land preparation, crop harvesting, management, and more. The company claims that Oxen reduces farmers’ labour cost by 50 percent. The firm also uses high-tech mechanisms, such as IoT, to determine machine performances. Oxen also uses satellite images to look into the health of the crops and harvesting status.
This farm equipment-providing startup aims to make farming more affordable and respectable. Empowering farmers is the need of the hour, not just to ensure that farmers’ livelihoods are secure but also to bridge the ever growing gap between India’s burgeoning population and the possible scarcity of food. Unlike India’s population, the nation’s agricultural production has not grown as rapidly. If India is to avoid a major food shortage in the future, farming must be made a sustainable profession.