Agri Business

‘Farmers shifting to online platforms from mandis at great speed’

Subramani Ra Mancombu | | Updated on: Feb 21, 2022
Pankajj Ghode, CEO, Agri10X

Pankajj Ghode, CEO, Agri10X

Agri10X CEO: It is being adopted, accepted due to its convenience with price playing a key factor

Farmers across India have begun to shift to online platforms and their transformation towards technology is taking place at a great speed, says Pankajj Ghode, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Agri10x.

“The belief of farmers is transforming and the adoption of online platforms is happening. It is being accepted and adopted for its convenience. They are busy with farming and we (online platforms) help them assist sell their produce,” said Ghode, whose Agri10x helps farmers sell various farm produce online.

Mandis no more dominant factor

Farmers dependence on agriculture terminal markets or agricultural produce marketing committee (APMC) mandis has begun to reduce. This is because mandis are no more a “dominant factor” for pricing. 

“That has been eliminated. Pricing is important and it plays a vital factor. Farmers put in hard work for six months and don’t get the right price, they get demotivated,” he said, explaining the reasons why farmers are transforming to the online platform, a blockchain-driven agricultural ecosystem. 

That way, the repeal of the farm reform laws in December have not impacted or raised concern among farmers. “Farmers do not really care about all these. For them, convenience and money factors matter,” Ghode said. 

Farmgate momentum

The problem with the mandis is that payments are manual and prices are defined by traders. This was why Agri10x decided to get online and “create momentum from the farmgate”. 

Ghode’s views are supported by the increasing sales and participation in online platforms such as Krishify and Praman.Ai. 

Agri10x took a leaf out of the electronic National Agricultural Market to launch its operations in 2018. But it took another two years before it could flag off its first trading. “It took two years to build our product,” he said. 

“Online basically eliminates the farmers’ need to go out, look for buyers, pack load and unload. We have developed mobile and web application for selling farm products digitally,” said the start-up CEO. 

Providing visibility

The Pune-based firm started its operations with 10 farmers helping them sell pomegranate. “Today, we have two lakh farmers selling various produce online,” Ghode said, adding that the turnover since its launch has topped ₹250 crore. 

Stating that his firm was “farmer-centric than buyer-centric”, he said the online platform provides farmers visibility, get more time and money. The firm, run with 250 staff, also has around 7,000 traders buying from farmers on its web and app links. 

“Our major business is with traders, who have the higher capacity of paying. Our policy is cash-and-carry. These traders pay immediately on the conclusion of a trade,” Ghode said, adding that currently, the daily turnover is ₹1.5-2 crore. 

POGG business

 Agri10x has widened its products portfolio to onion, potato, soyabean, maize, chilli, rice (a recent addition), garlic and ginger. Potato, onion, ginger and garlic (POGG) is “a value and volume business” for it. 

“POGG is the best for us as the supply is available across the country and they are consistent in nature. Seasonability does not affect these,” the start-up CEO said, adding that 112 commodities are being totally traded on its platform now. 

Actually, the Covid pandemic, when the operations were launched, proved to be a “blessing in disguise” as farmers faced challenges to sell their produce with the mandis being closed. “We began to supply to corporates and producing organisations,” he said. 

Talks with Israeli firm

Agri10x has defined the parameters for the quality of produce and the standard operational procedures are in place for manually checking the quality. “We are currently in talks with an Israeli firm for an artificial intelligence-driven mobile app for quality checks. From April onwards, we could be deploying it for farmers,” Ghode said. 

The start-up also has transport and operations in place. For example, once a Delhi trader puts a buy order, the operations team comes into the picture to ensure quality besides grading and sorting. 

The transport people then pick the produce and deliver it to the trader and the whole trading gets closed. “We charge for transport and packaging, if required but we don’t charge for checking the quality,” he said. 

The firm also does not collect any charge or levy from the farmer for helping them sell their produce. “But we charge traders 1-5 per cent depending on the commodity. The highest charge is for fruits,” Ghode said. 

Onto input business

The online platform, which has its employees working in Pune and Bengaluru, currently has farmers from as far as Madurai in Tamil Nadu working with it, besides from Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. “We have gone deep into Madhya Pradesh at this point,” he said. 

Following the experience gained in helping farmers sell their produce, the start-up is now planning to create a model like “Swiggy or Zomato” which will help farmers to get seeds, pesticides and fertilizers at their farmgates. 

Agri10x has roped in 112 retails and what was begun as a pilot project has now become a business with a turnover of ₹50 lakh. “We are now rolling it out across the country as the revenue from it is increasing,” the start-up CEO said.

Asked about trade disputes, he said though there were a few, today they are “not even one per cent” of the total trades. “We hardly find any dispute as we have understood how this facilitation works,” Ghode said.

Published on February 21, 2022
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