I worked as a media person and a writer who would share her opinions about various issues and trends concerning the urban population of the nation. While I was exploring options for a job change I came across an interesting and challenging opportunity of understanding the needs of a completely different target group i.e. the farmers! Without having any agriculture background, I joined Gramophone, an AgTechstart up that aims to solve real problems faced by farmers in India. My team at Gramophone provides assistance to more than 150,000 farmers for growing their crops in a better way.
It felt counter-intuitive that a farmer who is doing agriculture for years would need external help in growing the crops. I mean, he does this every year. I was curious to understand why are so many farmers reaching out to us? What are their real problems and how are we solving them? Excited to learn more about a completely unrelated sector (a farmer’s perspective) but a little sceptical about the solutions around the marriage of Agronomic Intelligence led e-Commerce, I took the plunge almost a couple of months back.
Since then, I have interacted with farmers, our agronomy experts and have been a part of various internal discussions around building the right solutions for the farmers. I could relate a farmer with an entrepreneur who works under a lot of uncertainties be it finding the product market fit, building the perfect team or constantly looking out for capital to build his dream! A farmer goes through similar kinds of challenges. He is looking for answers to questions from the selection of right crop mix (marketing risk), uncertainties of weather, newer pest and diseases attack, soil degradation due to indiscriminate use of agrochemicals (production risk) or management of capital (financial risk) along the year.
I have realized that a good business is cognizant of all risk mitigation strategies and so are a lot of farmers today. Especially the younger generation (25-40 year old) are the ones who are latching on to the Internet era and using it for their benefit. ‘Smartphone’ is the new source of information for them. Like a good businessman, farmers who are entrepreneurial, are the early adopters of agriculture apps and services which are bridging not just information gap but are also providing services to them.
Now technology is revolutionising their lives by connecting them with Agronomists sitting 1000s of kms away. They can connect with peers with just a click of a button, share pictures over dedicated farmer groups and get instant solutions.
Balaram Daod of Semada village in Indore, has found peer to peer interactions on Gramophone App to be very useful as it builds trust and provides instant solutions.
“I feel empowered and confident of my crops now. With better information source on my smartphone, I am able to take the right decision and Gramophone’s instant support over the calls has been life-saving for the last three seasons,” mentions Balaram.
He further talks about how the demographics have changed over the last 5 years around technology and how farmers are being benefitted when they are given information about weather, mandi prices, product delivery at doorsteps.
With a smile on his face, Balaram mentions, “Madamji aaj kisaan samajhdaar ho gaya hai, aap to hamari samasyaon ko samajh keaise hi solution dein. Ab App chalana to sab ko aat ahai”.
With such positivity from the new age farmers, we are excited to build the right products for the farmers and make their entrepreneurial journey a bit easier and also mitigate their risks by building a data-based approach to agriculture.