Lockdown impact: More farmers buying inputs online, says BigHaat

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on May 05, 2020

Representative image   -  THE HINDU

Transactions double in one month; COD is preferred means of transaction

BigHaat, an e-commerce platform for farm inputs, has seen its sales and enquiries surge since the lockdown. The Bengaluru- based start-up has been selling farm inputs such as vegetable seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and farm equipment online for five years now.

“Our transactions have almost doubled over the past one month, as more farmers have started buying inputs online,” said Sateesh Kumar Nukala, founder and CEO of BigHaat, without disclosing specifics. “Farmers never imagined that they could get inputs during this crisis period and we have been able to fulfil at least 70 per cent of the orders received,” he added.

Big Haat sells over 3,500 farm input products such as seeds, nutrients and even small equipment, from over 160 brands that include DuPont, Mahyco, Monsanto and Rasi Seeds. Farmers can place their orders on the BigHaat platform and also through a dial-in number, Nukala said, adding that the company offers a cash-on-delivery (COD) option, which most of the farmers have preferred to use.

So far, about 30,000 farmers have transacted online and over 2 million are engaged on the BigHaat platform for crop advisory and other agronomy related information, Nukala said. The company works with 22 logistics partners including India Post and has the reach to deliver in about 16,000 of the 21,000 total pincodes in the country, he said. It has set up seven fulfilment and dispatch centres across the country in cities including Kota and Hyderabad.

Crop advisory

“For the brands working with us, besides delivering their products at the farmers’ doorsteps, we also help them in disseminating crop advisory in four regional languages and Hindi,” Nukala said.

About 45 per cent of BigHaat’s demand comes from the southern States — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “In Kerala also we have customers, but the volumes are not high because they are backyard farmers and their ticket sizes are small,” he added.

The rest of the demand comes from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and the north-eastern States. “We have seen good traction from the North-East in the past 12 months. Farmers in the North-East have huge challenges in purchasing inputs because of the low volumes and the online sales medium is getting traction in that region,” said Nukala.

“Considering our reach and delivery capability, more brands have shown interest in leveraging our platform,” he said. Further, BigHaat is promoting smaller and regional brands in seeds and fertilisers exclusively on its platform.

Fund-raise plans

BigHaat, funded by Ankur Capital in the early stages, is looking at raising about $10 million from venture capitalists to expand its technology platform and strengthen its supply chain, Nukala said.

The online medium is attracting the interest of of both input makers and farmers. Recently, Bayer partnered with AgroStar for home delivery of inputs to farmers.

Published on May 05, 2020

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