Recently, Rajya Sabha passed two farm bills — Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 along with the Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. One of the features of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 is that it aims to end the monopoly of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Mandis.
Earlier, under the APMC Act passed in 1964, all the farmers were required to sell their produce at the government-regulated markets, better known as Mandis. Arhatiya or middlemen in such cases helped the farmers in selling their crops to private companies or government agencies. Over the years, several farmers were feared being bullied by such middlemen or commissioning agents who usurped a major part of their earnings. The government claims that this newly passed bill would help in removing such middlemen from the system would liberate farmers from such constraints.
Even before the introduction of such a bill, several agritech startups have been working to weed out the middlemen from the system to offer the best price of the produce to the farmers.
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Here we list 5 such agri-tech startups in alphabetical order.
Founded in 2016, Mumbai-based AgriBazaar is an online platform which helps connect farmers, traders, banks, enterprises and governments. Modelled on the traditional Mandi system, the startup provides a digital platform for small farmers and merchants to directly sell and buy farm produce without the involvement of middlemen. In this case, the farmers receive payment directly in their bank accounts via e-wallet AgriPay. Apart from connecting the sellers and buyers, AgriBazaar also provides last-mile logistics support.
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Co-founder and CEO Amith Agarwal said in an interview that the startup uses AL and ML to offer services such as crop advisory and credit-on-click. Looking forward, AgriBazaar aims at mapping and tagging every farm and ‘becoming the Google Maps of Indian agri-sector’.
NCR-headquartered Crofarm, founded by former Grofers executives in 2016, is a farm-to-business supply chain startup. Crofarm delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to both online and offline retailers after procuring it directly from the farmers. Currently, there are more than 5,000 retailers and over 10,000 farmers in their network.
Crofarm uses an AI-based demand prediction system to study the historical data to make its procurement. The system also helps in keeping track of inventory by its shelf life, which sends an alert in case of an aging inventory. Further, Crofarm also uses CRM tools built on WhatsApp to manage customer interactions.
End-to-end agricultural solutions provider DeHaat is an agritech platform founded in 2012. DeHaat provides a marketplace for farmers to sell produce to large institutional buyers directly without the intervention of middlemen or commissioning agents. The company also provides last-mile connectivity for easy logistics and storage services. Reportedly, DeHaat has assisted farmers on its clientele to achieve a 20 percent increase in the gate prices.
Along with presenting a sellers market, DeHaat uses data science and machine learning technologies to improve production efficiency. Some of its other services include giving farmers expert insights and advisory on choosing the correct crop, soil health, suitable fertilisers and pesticides to be used, right time for harvesting the produce, and more.
KrishiHub was founded in 2016 with an aim to empower farmers through technology, design, and data science. Driven by demand, KrishiHub procures fresh vegetables directly from farmers and delivers them to businesses such as restaurants, canteens, and hostels. The startup uses an AI-powered supply chain to undertake farm-to-doorstep delivery. Use of proprietary algorithms for determining the best route for delivery agents has helped the organisation ensure delivery within 12 hours. Reportedly, KrishiHub has helped farmers reduce their vegetable wastage by up to 25 percent.
Other services of KrishiHub include machine learning-enabled weather forecasting, precision agriculture using satellite, regional language supported discussion forums for the farmers.
NinjaCart is a Bengaluru-based agritech startup, which procures fresh produce from the farmers and delivers to the businesses, including Kiranas and private retailers, in 12 hours. One of the salient features of their services is that every supply can be traced back to its source. NinjaCart uses analytics to take control of the supply chain to solve asymmetries, inefficiencies, and disorganisation of a traditional system. The startup claims to provide better prices and consistent demands to farmers on the one hand and fresh produce at competitive prices to the retailers on the other.
It must be noted that a sizable section of the farmer community is against the complete removal of the middlemen system as proposed by the newly passed bill. They argue that a common farmer is not equipped to deal directly with corporate giants and abolishing such important links in the market chain would mean that farmers would be left in a lurch. However, for the agritech industry, such an act would be nothing less than a boon.