Vinayak* is an Indian farmer who grows sugarcane on a 10-acre ancestral farm. He is not fully literate and unaware of the government subsidies available to him, the latest price of his crops, or how to get the best price for his produce.
At the start of the season, Vinayak approaches the nearby dealer shop to ask for the necessary inputs to cultivate his farm, who provide a higher-order value of inputs for his farm (around 11-12 acres). Apart from the extra expense, the inputs adulterate the farm, resulting in lower yields for the coming seasons and chemical-laced produce. For agri-related issues, Vinayak directly approaches the dealer, who typically gives them incorrect advice to maximize their profit. Over time, even minor crop issues seem to spiral out of control.
Key Challenges In Indian Agriculture
This is not just Vinayak’s story but a snapshot of the many challenges Indian farmers face every day Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for 58% of India’s 1.4 billion population. Still, the sector faces many challenges, and solving them will be important to India’s overall development and the improved welfare of its rural poor. Here is an overview of some of the challenges:
- Systematic Inefficiencies: Although 58% of Indians look to agriculture for their livelihood, it contributes only around 15% to the country's GDP, which is not good for a country of India’s size and showcases major systematic inefficiencies at work.
- Access to Information: Most Indian farmers are unable to manage their crops effectively and don’t have the necessary know-how to manage various nutrient, pest, disease, or crop issues.
- Low Farmer Income: The average monthly income of an Indian Farmer is merely USD 86 compared to the average monthly income in India of USD 240. Despite working day and night to provide for the nutrition of the entire nation, a rural farmer is often unable to support a family of 5.
We worked with BharatAgri to create a world class agri advisory product that could benefit the 140 million farmers in India. Our journey began with talking to farmers, ecosystem members - like dealers, distributors, seed/fertiliser vendors, middlemen and bank/financial officials - across multiple Indian states to get a clear understanding of the ecosystem, their needs, opportunities in the market and their relationship with technology.
A key outcome of the research exercise was a map of all the stakeholders and their needs and interactions. This map helped us define market gaps, opportunities, and the approach BharatAgri could take to address the same. Our newfound understanding also helped us define key user archetypes and resulted in the redesign of almost every aspect of the mobile product like the onboarding and activation experience, conversion of free users to paying subscribers and features designed to keep users engaged.
Anytime, Anywhere Farm Management and Alerts
Managing a farm can be a tough job, especially for farmers who are out and about in the field the entire day. Most farmers also don’t have access to soil, water or weather reports to help make proactive decisions on their farms.
We designed a new farm home page that takes the guesswork out of farm management. There, farmers can check the status of the soil, water, weather or other external factors in one centralised place and receive alerts even if they’ve not opened the app. They also get personalised guidance on the activities they need to perform to manage their farm effectively. Advice on pest, diseases or crop inputs is a click away.
This is just one of the many features that we had worked on. Our work is one of the reasons that BharatAgri experienced 20x growth in paid subscribers over the last 12 months with a 65% renewal rate.
In September 2021, BharatAgri was also able to raise a Series A round of $6.5 million to bring these benefits to all the 140 million farmers in India.
* Names and pictures are representational