How the FAARMS agritech platform impacted the lives of 70,000 farmers in one year
Sudesh Devi is a dairy farmer from Jind in Haryana. For more than 20 years, she has been one of the main breadwinners in her family and many people in her village turn to her for advice on how to look after their livestock. Like many dairy farmers across the country, Sudesh Devi also fed his animals traditional fodder derived from bran, millets and pulses like khal, chokar, chanaand chunni.
Last year, she was able to access Golden Channa Churibetter quality food thanks to the digital agritech platform FAARMS. The feed change resulted in a two-litre increase in milk production per animal, earning Sudesh Devi and her family an extra Rs 20,000 per year.
“These are big savings for small farmers and can make a difference in their standard of living,” says Alok Duggal, co-founder and COO of FAARMS, which provides the full range of products and services such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, animal feed right to the farmers’ doorstep.
Women make up 71 percent of India’s livestock labor force
Alok and Taranbir Singhco-founder and CEO of FAARMS, first met while working in rural banking and decided to create a platform that would solve the problems farmers faced in their daily lives.
“We have both spent almost 15 years in the agricultural sector. I moved on to work in supply chain, while Taranbir continued to work in agriculture. At some point, we realized that we had to create a complete ecosystem that goes beyond technology, beyond distribution, and offers a simple yet complete solution for farmers,” says Alok, adding that the first big task was to gain the confidence of the farmers. This was a big challenge because the farmers had become accustomed to receiving wrong or erroneous products and facing delivery delays.
FAARMS was launched in July 2020. The startup, with an illustrated and multilingual app, as well as a website-enabled platform, is not only a one-stop solution for agricultural supplies, it also offers crop-related advice and creates a market for farmers to sell their harvest. It is also planned to facilitate access to equipment and credit.
“Animal feed is in high demand as India has the largest livestock population in the world. However, it is one of the least known, especially in terms of dissemination in the field. So we thought that if we were able to deliver the right product to the right household, we would be able to gain their trust,” says Alok, adding that with strong acceptance from farmers, this has become the backbone of their entire ecosystem.
“FAARMS is also creating financial inclusion for farmers with insurance, microfinance, online retail and healthcare. Our goal is to double Indian farmers’ incomes by 2024. We are like an Amazon to the Indian farming community, giving them access to the best brands and critical crop-specific advice in the palm of their hands,” says Alok.
Starting in the middle of a pandemic
During the lockdown, supply chains around the world have been severely impacted.
“Agriculture was one of the sectors that had to keep working for farmers to produce food, and the same was true for livestock. We thought it would be a good time to start a business that would have also a social element,” says Alok, who worked in the field with his team to convince farmers to try their product.
“Forty people, myself included, have contracted COVID-19 in different states, working and delivering products every day. However, the success we have had from it has given us all a lot of confidence. And we haven’t looked back since,” he adds.
To ensure familiarity and ease of use of the platform, FAARMS deployed on-the-ground relationship managers who acted as brand ambassadors to organize events and raise awareness on the use of a digital platform. .
Alok says trust was built gradually, starting with farmers ordering one product and then a second once they received exactly what they ordered. Today, 75% of their clientele are repeat customers.
One of the main focus areas of FAARMS is the transformation of the dairy sector. Although India is the largest milk producer in the world, there are several production and supply issues.
“FAARMS is trying to solve this problem by providing quality feeds that give higher production of better quality milk, which leads to increased income for dairy farmers,” says Alok, adding that improved feeds have also led to better animal health and welfare. -being.
During the past year, 60 percent of dairy farmers in 14 villages in Kota, Rajasthan, reported a 16 percent increase in their average income and female dairy farmers in 10 villages in Bareilly, UP, reported an increase of 25% of their average income.
An added benefit has been the impact that better livestock health and increased yield have had on women’s economic empowerment.
“Few people know that women lead practices such as cattle feeding, rearing and calving, and dairy animal management. They make up 71 percent of the labor force in livestock farming,” says Alok.
Taranbir Singh and Alok Duggal (right) co-founded FAARMS in July 2021 to deliver a full range of agricultural products and services directly to farmers’ doorsteps.
He says that when the representatives delivered the supplies, it was the wives who made the payments, placed the orders and managed the supplies while the husbands were in the fields.
“With higher yields and increased income, women have also been able to invest more in running their own households and improving the nutritional and other needs of their families,” says Alok, adding that despite their contribution, the contribution of rural women to the economy is rarely reflected in national statistics.
Over the past year, FAARMS has expanded its operations to seven states – Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh – in 80 clusters, working with over 70,000 farmers.
“We have plans to expand to six more states and even come down south,” says Alok, explaining that growth will be both horizontal and vertical as they plan to expand to include fruit growers. and spices.
Looking to the future, Alok says they want to keep things simple while creating a full ecosystem locally.
“It’s a simple subject, so we’re not looking to create complex solutions. We want to build a complete ecosystem that gives farmers everything they need, from farming supplies to financing or insuring livestock and tractors,” says Alok.
FAARMS has also partnered with the seven state agricultural universities to transfer the latest knowledge to farmers in their own language through the platform.
“As part of a long-term goal, we will look at other attributes like producing and buying products from farmers. But for now, we want to do one thing at a time and bring that impact to at least 15 states across the country,” says Alok.