Farmers in India have started to switch to online platforms, and their transition to technology is accelerating, according to Pankajj Ghode, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Agri10x.
‘Farmers’ beliefs are changing, and internet platforms are becoming more popular. It is recognized and adopted due to its ease. They are busy farming, and we (online platforms) support them in selling their goods,’ said Ghode, whose Agri10x platform assists farmers in selling diverse agricultural produce online.
Mandis is no longer a major element
Farmers’ reliance on agricultural terminal markets or agricultural produce marketing committee (APMC) mandis is beginning to wane. This is due to the fact that mandis are no longer a ‘dominant element’ in price.
‘That has been removed. Pricing is significant and plays an important role. Farmers become demotivated after putting in six months of hard labour and not receiving the correct price,’ he explained, explaining why farmers are transitioning to the online platform, a blockchain-driven agricultural ecosystem.
As a result, the repeal of agricultural reform measures in December had little effect or caused alarm among farmers. ‘Farmers are unconcerned about any of this. Convenience and cost are important to them,’ Ghode explained.
The issue with the mandis is that payments are made by hand and prices are set by dealers. This was the impetus behind Agri10x’s decision to go online and ‘generate momentum from the farmgate.’
Ghode’s point of view is supported by rising sales and engagement in online platforms like Krishify and Praman. Ai.
Agri10x followed in the footsteps of the electronic National Agricultural Market by launching its activities in 2018. However, it took another two years before it could begin trading. ‘It took us two years to develop our product,’ he explained.
‘Online eliminates the farmers’ need to go out and hunt for buyers, pack, load, and unload. We’ve created a mobile and web application for selling agricultural products digitally,’ stated the CEO of the start-up.
The Pune-based company began its activities by assisting 10 farmers in the sale of pomegranate. ‘Today, we have two lakh farmers selling diverse goods online,’ Ghode said, adding that the company’s revenue has surpassed Rs 250 crore since its inception.
He stated that his company is ‘farmer-centric rather than buyer-centric,’ and that the internet platform gives farmers visibility, as well as more time and money. The company, which employs 250 people, also has around 7,000 dealers who buy from farmers through its online and app linkages.
‘Our main business is with traders, who have a bigger payment capability.’ Our policy is strictly cash-and-carry. ‘These dealers pay promptly at the completion of a trade,’ Ghode added, adding that the daily turnover is about ₹1.5-2 crore.
Agri10x’s product range now includes onion, potato, soyabean, maize, chilli, rice (a new addition), garlic, and ginger. Its ‘value and volume business’ is potato, onion, ginger, and garlic (POGG).
‘POGG is the finest for us since it is available all throughout the country and it is constant in nature.’ Seasonability has no effect on them,’ the start-up CEO explained, adding that 112 commodities are now fully traded on its platform.
Actually, when the operations were initiated, the Covid epidemic proved to be a ‘gift in disguise,’ since farmers encountered difficulties selling their goods due to the closure of the mandis. ‘We started supplying corporates and manufacturing organisations,’ he explained.
Discussions with an Israeli business
Agri10x has specified the parameters for produce quality, and regular operating methods for manually testing the quality are in place. ‘We are now in discussions with an Israeli startup about developing an artificial intelligence-powered smartphone app for quality inspections. We may start deploying it for farmers as early as April,’ Ghode added.
Transport and operations are also in place at the start-up. For example, when a Delhi merchant places a buy order, the operations team steps in to assure quality in addition to grading and sorting.
The transport workers then pick up the produce and deliver it to the merchant, bringing the dealing to an end. ‘We charge for delivery and packing if necessary, but we don’t charge for quality control,’ he explained.
In addition, the company does not charge or levy the farmer for assisting them in selling their produce. ‘However, depending on the product, we charge dealers 1-5 percent. The greatest fee is for fruits,’ Ghode explained.
Now for the business part
Farmers from as far away as Madurai in Tamil Nadu, as well as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, are now working with the internet platform, which has staff in Pune and Bengaluru. ‘At this time, we’ve gone well into Madhya Pradesh,’ he remarked.
Following its success in assisting farmers in selling their food, the start-up is now intending to develop a model similar to ‘Swiggy or Zomato’ that would assist farmers in obtaining seeds, insecticides, and fertilisers at their farmgates.
Agri10x has 112 retail partners and has grown from a pilot project to a business with a revenue of ₹50 lakh. ‘We are now rolling it out around the country as income from it grows,’ the CEO of the start-up stated.
When asked about trade disputes, he claimed that while there were a few, they now constituted ‘not even one percent of global trades. We seldom have disagreements because we understand how this facilitation works,’ Ghode remarked.