At the start of this year, growers from Anantapur, a city in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, were left with huge volumes of unsold sweet lime. The reason for this was that they were unable to transport the produce elsewhere due to the Corona lockdown.
The growers were bracing for huge losses, when KisanSaathi, an agriculture marketing firm, offered to sell the crop to Mother Dairy, a food processing company. Many growers in the city today supply sweet lime to Mother Dairy.
Over the last few years, a clutch of agri-marketing firms have surfaced across India, promising to transform farm marketing through technology-driven supply chain management. This includes names like AgriBazaar, Crofarm, Unnati and Freshokartz, apart from KisanSaathi.
In September, the government introduced three bills on agriculture, which among other things, allow growers to sell their crop outside defined markets governed by an act called Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act.
“There are growers, who have gone beyond just basic farming practices and developed skills like packaging and branding,” said Gopinath Sheregar, CEO and Co-Founder of Bengaluru-based AgroBlock. “However, there are many growers who do not have the access, know-how or tools to market their products.”
He added: “Initially, we thought it would take another three years to shift and transform the process. However, two factors have accelerated this — the Covid-19 pandemic and the Farm Bill 2020.”
“Today, we are in talks with companies like Flipkart on how we can procure directly from the growers and supply to them. At least 25 such new online retailers in the grocery space have emerged in Bengaluru alone over the last three months,” he told tntribune.com.
Companies like AgroBlock have been tracking the agricultural produce pre-harvest and post-harvest by integrating technology with agriculture. This helps growers keep track of the produce, the estimated time of production and the market supply. Through this monitoring service, growers have been able to ensure that buyers are lined up well in advance, and grower produced data is available to them, like a monitoring service.