We largely focused on educating farmers. For example, there were new crops and agriculture economic lessons like which crops have a market and what kind of pricing they attract and how to market them and how to protect from pests are important for farmers.
Based on our studies which we regularly published. Many farmers chose to change their crops and benefitted. Unlike News, Agri field does not attract much advertisement and the revenue was not attractive. But every time when we publish our magazine we got 100s of appreciation from many farmers and they thanked and encouraged us. This gave us immense satisfaction and motivation to continue against all odds.
There was a farmer who could focus on Cold Press Oil and he is today selling directly to many distributors after he came to know about the demand. Jaggery producers did not know that this has such a value and health benefits. We had to help such producers to understand the processes like online ordering, using simple tools like WhatsApp and Payments via Google Pay etc and complete the transaction. Now they have regular orders.
We also attempted to brand these products under a common brand to reach out to larger markets. But we could not completely achieve this as it requires Working capital. In the process we learnt a lot, we are hoping that when we have financial support, we can go ahead and implement directly to consumer brands. The idea is not just to make lots of money, but to enable farmers to get better realization, by building a viable model.
Many of these large ventures which speak about farm to fork and table etc, are not able to understand the local farmers’ challenges and their scale is not big. We feel that aggregating farmers in a small region, like a cooperative, is the way to go. Something like Israel’s kibbutz model. We are confident we will evolve a new cooperative model that suits India and modernize the industry for the benefit of all stakeholders.
The advice given by our Agrisakthi to the goat and cow breeders and disease prevention measures were very useful for the farmers. We informed that farmers that If they sent a picture of a crop or some disease symptom of a livestock, we will send a suggestion to solve their problems. Even after illness We helped them. This reduces losses due to sickness. We have regular columns by Veterinarians who share their knowledge to help farmers to manage the livestocks.
Our goal is to automate this process with Ai to reduce the time and assist our experts to suggest suitable remedies. We will also start collecting more data and analyse them to make more impactful contribution at the macro level. Slowly will be the channel for introducing appropriate technologies to farmers.
We see that there are opportunities to create some kind of Ai based models for disease identification. We are trying to see how we can create these systems, as we have access to large farming community people.
Based on this experience, we are clear that the following are important
- Knowledge and timely information are key to success
- Scale can be achieved only creating a cooperative model which works for Indian context
- Technology can be extensively used to reduce problems that are created because of lack of information.
- Young farmers / New Generation farmers are open to adapting new technologies.
- Earning Farmers trust is the key to success as many heavily funded startups did not treat the farmers well. They are focused on valuation and get rich quick models, which is hurting all.
- We feel the data that we have and the data that we can harness can give us much better insight into what is happening in this. Right now, we have acquired the audience and we are also able to engage with them. It is time to get the meaningful data and act on them.
- We also realize that this journey is going to be long and a bit tedious, but we are ready.
- We also realize the importance of putting the stakeholders’ interest first. That is farmers.