Connecting farm to online market

Connecting farm to online market

Agriculture, being the primary sector, has the most number of people in India earning their bread from it. Rural farmers today, moving from subsistence cultivation to market retail, contend with a host of issues pertaining to right pricing, branding, quality checks, and above all, finding a lucrative customer base. Finding that the cooperative system is the answer to tackle the said issues, and helping farmers up their game, ConnectFarmer has taken yield.

“ConnectFarmer is an effort to economically empower small-holding farmers in India. There is a lack of organised market facilities for processed farm products and unconventional crops in the country. Processed farm products help farmers earn stable income, if they’re provided with good market opportunities, and we fill this gap,” says Shrikrishna Hegde Ullane, Co-founder and CEO of ConnectFarmer.

Shrikrishna, who hails from an agriculturist family of Uttara Kannada district, set up ConnectFarmer with Balachandra Hegde Sayimane, Shriganesh Bhat, and Shriganesh Hegde Ullane in 2013.

“It is our belief that the cooperative model is suitable for India, and there is no need to seek other means to sell agricultural produce and value-added products. On one hand, farmers control everything, including uniform pricing and supply, while it restricts middlemen in the entire marketing process, ensuring greater income for farmers,” Shrikrishna says.

Unfortunately, unlike milk for instance, farm produce needs to be sold through the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committees), where the farmer has little hold over prices. Also, not all unconventional produce, such as kokum, are covered under APMC guidelines for marketing, with the yield not making to market effectively.

In response, ConnectFarmer provides stable market opportunities for processed farm products, and makes it easy for directly selling to the end-customer. The startup provides training in packaging, marketing, pricing, and branding of farm products to cultivators as well.

ConnectFarmer.com, which began as a listing website for farm produce, has today emerged as an agri-marketing platform. “We have around 300 farmer-sellers, largely from the Malnad region and Coastal Karnataka, who showcase their products online to be sold to customers across India. Besides, we also have 10,000 farmers who are registered with us through our venture,” he says.  
The firm has made over 1,500 deliveries to date, using cost-effective India Post shipping and parcel services.

Elucidating the firm’s revenue model, Shrikrishna says, “We earn around 12% as processing fee for every transaction.”

The company has also tied up with retail shops across Bengaluru, Hubballi, Pune and Mumbai, to whom it intends to directly sell products, and wants to bring on board more shops, besides wanting to tie up with more farmers from other regions in the country. The bootstrapped startup is expecting to close a Series A round of Rs 2 crore in the next six months.    

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