Farming technology platform BharatAgri, which helps farmers through a unique algorithm providing a farming calendar for a full year through its mobile app, plans to expand to Gujarat, Karnataka and Telangana.

The company will first expand its logistics network in North India to ensure farmers get their inputs on time, said the start-up’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Sai Gole. 

Crop input firms

BharatAgri, which started off as an advisory by providing an annual calendar to farmers specifying step-by-step actions to be taken by them, has now got into the crop input business, onboarding about 200 companies. The companies include multinationals such as Bayer, FMC, UPL and Dhanuka Agritech, besides regional players.

BharatAgri co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Sai Gole

BharatAgri co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Sai Gole

“We have the full logistic part. So we are expanding in North India to ensure that whatever farmers are ordering, they receive it in the least of the possible time. So for Maharashtra, we can deliver within 48 hours, but for other States, we still take 3-5 days time,” said the Pune-based firm’s co-founder. 

BharatAgri, incorporated as Leancrop Technology Solutions Pvt Ltd, is currently present in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, besides a small level of presence in Karnataka and Telangana. 

In October this year, BharatAgri raised Series A funding of ₹35 crore ($4.3 million) led by Arkam Ventures, an early-stage venture fund dedicated to ‘Middle-India’ start-ups.

Raising farmers’ yield

Gole, whose family has been traditionally in the agriculture sector, told businessline in an online interaction that she and her co-founder Siddharth Dialani, who is the CEO of the company, launched the start-up in 2017 with the objective of increasing farmers’ productivity in the country. 

“Bridging the productivity gap was the initial objective. That’s why we started with the advisory part. For the first three years, we spent only in building the technology to ensure how we can have an affordable advisory for farmers,” she said. 

Gole and Dialani lived on a farm, 100 km from Pune, and carried out all farm activities for three seasons to understand the whole business. “We didn’t want to build something where we are dependent on somebody else’s knowledge,” she said.  

BharatAgri is an advisory-led platform where farmers can provide inputs on 20-plus of their farm parameters. In turn, the company helps them with advisory which is personalised to their farm. Services are offered in Hindi, Marathi and English. 

Rahul Chandra, Managing Director, Arkam Ventures

Rahul Chandra, Managing Director, Arkam Ventures

5 million active farmer users

“And at the same time, the advisory leads to purchase of different inputs 90 per cent of the time. So, we also have a marketplace where farmers can purchase these,” said Gole, who initially showed interest in drones but has put it on the backburner now.  

This has helped the company as it has 5 million farmers who are active users of the digital platform. “They come in for all kinds of advice. It can be as simple as it’s raining. I have a major pest infection, what should I do? The plant growth is not good from sowing till harvest,” she said. 

Growers can get solutions to any issue on BharatAgri platform as it is 100 per cent algorithm driven and no one sits or addresses these issues, said the company’s COO. 

On a given day, about 500,000-600,000 farmers use the platform. Initially, the advisory, which is more of data processing, was offered for subscription but now the service is offered free of cost. 

Focus on solving problems

One of the start-up’s USPs is that it has an advisory team which helps farmers to find the “right input at the right time”, she said, adding that BharatAgri has tried to understand the difference in users it has.  

“Basically, a farmer comes with a problem. His problem is he is not getting seeds or there is some problem with his crop or his farm experiences excess rain. For such problems nobody is giving the solution,” Gole said.

BharatAgri’s  focus has been to solve the problem first and sometimes the solution could be purchasing some inputs. 

Rahul Chandra, Managing Director, Arkam Ventures, which led the Series A round funding for BharatAgri, said the startup’s platform gives an automated response as advisory. “That also means it can scale to millions of farmers without the quality suffering. And then you can keep adding new inputs that have meaningful implications for farmers,” he said.

The advisories have helped farmers increase the yield. For example, in Maharashtra, the company has helped the yield in sugarcane to increase to 200-240 tonnes from around 150 tonnes. 

“So we have built a strong community in Maharashtra. And now the plan is to have a similar presence and provide similar strong benefits across India,” Gole said.