Tractor major Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is planning aggressive expansion of its Farming As A Service (FAAS) business ‘Mahindra Krish-e’, even as it evaluates options to include drone-based services in its offerings.

Mahindra Krish-e services are currently being offered to farmers through some 138 physical centres, which are part of the Mahindra and Swaraj tractor dealerships across the country. “We want to expand aggressively and in the shortest period of time, be available in all our 2000 dealerships,” said Ramesh Ramachandran, senior vice-president – Strategy & Farming As A Service, M&M Ltd.

Through Krish-e, M&M is helping farmers to improve productivity and incomes by helping them adopt a curated set of practices that included crop planning, seed treatment, optimum fertilizer application among others. Such practices are showcased to farmers through the one-acre demonstration plots set up across the country. “We started with 300 demo plots in 2019 and this season we want to do 11,000,” Ramachandran said adding that incomes of farmers, who have adopted the company’s farming solutions have improved from ₹5000-15,000 per acre, depending on the crop and region.

GMV of 300 crore

Over the past three years, Mahindra Krish-e has generated a gross merchandise value (GMV) of close to about ₹300 crore. “The GMV is driven both by the sale of equipment as well as by the sale of inputs,” Ramachandran said.

Through Krish-e, M&M is also offering digital advisory to farmers and is making available service offerings that include precision farming and equipment rentals. Through precision farming leveraging technologies such as IoT and sensor based soil mapping, M&M has been offering smart fertiliser application services to potato farmers in Punjab, where about 5,000 acres are covered by the services offering. Also, using the satellite-image based application, the company is helping sugar mills optimise the harvest schedules in their cane growing catchment areas.

‘Long-term play’

M&M, which sees a competitive advantage in FAAS, is looking at the business as a long-term play, Ramachandran said. Through Krish-e, the company would also look at offering other value added services such as financial products, credit and market linkage going forward, he added,

Ramachandran said the company is already piloting the use of drones and is working with industry partners in creating a business model. “Offering spraying services would be one of the big focus areas for us,” he said. The company expects to leverage its experience with precision farming over the past six years, in offering the drone-based services.