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BW Businessworld

Integrating Agri With Technology

Agribazaar’s platform connects around 10,000 traders and processors with more than 100 farmer producer organisations

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Amith Agarwal has been at the forefront of disruption in online agri-trading with a gross transaction value of Rs 25,507 crore from over 2.15 lakh users

AN AGRI-PRENEUR WITH a deep and practical understanding of Indian agriculture and farmer challenges, Amith Agarwal co-founded Agribazaar in December 2016 to transform the agri value chain through technology. 

For over 126 million small Indian farm owners, the platform is attempting to enable digital access to a wider marketplace. For buyers, it assures quality while mitigating counterparty risk while enabling secure payments through ‘One Nation, One Market’ philosophy. These, in turn, will lead to empowering small farm owners and enhancing their live­lihoods. 

Agarwal has played a key role in realising the company’s vision of build­ing an integrated electronic platform (e-mandi) serving all stakeholders’ needs in the farm-to-fork value chain. Under his stewardship, the company has evolved as a disruptor in online agri-trading with a gross transaction value of Rs 25,507 crore from over 2.15 lakh users across 13 states.

On the issue of fund raising during the pandemic Agarwal says, “The pandemic may have slowed down fund raising in general but for the agri-tech sector it was a boon in disguise. We saw our highest demand traction during the nine months and several interest from leading PE and global agri-players.” 

The company’s platform presently connects around 10,000 traders and processors, and more than 100 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO) with a network of over 3 lakh farmers across India. They have a pan-India network with full-fledged presence across 16 states, with trade volumes having crossed 50,000 tonnes. Their major activities are concentrated in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, as well as most states of South India. They saw a significant surge in registrations since the lockdown.

In 2016, Agribazaar started out by building an online platform to con­nect farmers, traders, banks, enterprises and governments. In 2017, they created an award-winning wallet — AgriPay — that has facilitated transac­tions of more than $1 billion. Today, they’re leveraging AI-driven insights and analytics to offer customised credit at the click of a button, crop advi­sory and more. Across the agri-value chain, through direct link­ages, they bring efficiency, trans­parency and traceability like never before. 

The company believes in employee well-being. This was evident during the pandemic when it did not lay off a single employee. 

Agribazaar has to cotend with competition. Says Agarwal, “To survive and thrive, the organisa­tions need to be nimble and effi­cient and be ready for change. Innovation is the key driver of change, with agriculture being no exception.”

Agribazaar, however, stands out from its competitors in terms of its technological advantage. “We aspire to become India’s largest e-mandi (online agri-marketplace) and repli­cate it across global markets. We want to become an Indian agri-tech unicorn in the next 36 months,” notes Aggarwal. 

Taking these aspirations further, through technology, the company envisages mapping (geo-tagging) every small farm holding in India and moving them towards intelli­gent, custom farming. Taking a cue from China, they wish to ride the Indian government’s policy push to provide them with technology, credit, capital and markets, all under a single platform. 

In future, scale and profitability will be the key focus. They have suc­cessfully built the www.agribazaar.com platform, fine tuning it with customer feedback. Now they wish to create a pan-India footprint, and also enter similar global markets. This aspiration is based on reducing inequality between small and large farmers. Further speaking about the social impact his company is mak­ing, Agarwal says, “Our asset-light model, carved on the strength of strategic partnerships, is allowing quick scalability and integration across the agri-ecosystem.”

Based on the trend of digitisation, Agarwal predicts that technology and agriculture will integrate like never before. Artificial Intelligence is the future of agriculture, with pre­dictive technology deciding the pre- and post-production handles through electronic data supply.