Kisan Network

Father and son want to connect Indian farmers through app

When you're an Indian farmer with a crop of potatoes to sell, you typically go to a ‘mandi’ (marketplace) and deal with a local middleman, who will then sell your product to another middleman. Finding out what the potatoes will ultimately sell for, is extremely hard.

A New Delhi father and son want to expand farmers' selling options by bringing the mandi to smartphones. The idea came to Sanjay Agarwalla while he was consulting with telecom and consumer goods companies. He noticed that even as his clients eyed these new markets, no one was thinking about how to help farmers increase their incomes.

Consulting with his son Aditya, then a computer science major at Princeton University, in late 2015 the two decided to form an online marketplace they called the Kisan Network.

“Anything that deals with agriculture in India is pretty large. So if it’s a problem, the problem can affect millions of people," Sanjay says, noting that the market is worth more than $250 billion. When it comes to solutions, he says, "the impact could be enormous." After all, some 70 percent of rural households in the country depend on agriculture as a primary source of income.

A National Geographic article tells how Kisan Network's app lets farmers advertise their produce and see potential buyers beyond the local mandi. Once the transaction is completed online, Kisan runs the produce from farmer direct to the buyer. Kisan's fee ranges from 5 to 15% of the sale, and farmers get to keep more than they would under the conventional system, where middleman after middleman bids up the price of the produce before it reaches a final buyer.

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