For centuries, the farmers in India have been relying on traditional methods, local market dynamics and increasing weather unpredictability. The cost of cultivation has risen consistently over the years, which has hit their pockets massively. Like every other sector in India, farming also needs innovative technology solutions to enhance productivity. To tackle such issues and seeing an opportunity, an Indore-based agri-tech startup called Gramophone started working to provide a solution to farmers that would help them.
Launched in 2016, Gramophone strives to create a difference in farming by offering data-led agronomy intelligence, technology solutions to the farmers which enables the purchase of the right kind of agri-input leading to higher yields. It empowers farming decision-makers with knowledge, making farming scientific, data-driven, and intelligent. Now a farmer can buy Agri inputs, get access to knowledge and sell the produce on a single platform. The full-stack approach makes their life better. Through its Krishi Mitra app, it serves as the point of access for farmers and offers them agri-advice on crops, soil, weather etc.
"The journey so far has been exciting, full of challenges and milestones. Today, more than 8 lakh farmers are associated with Gramophone which is a testimony of that. We started as Agronomy lead, Agri-Input Commerce Company, and in the last 2 years, we have become a full-stack technology platform," Gramophone's co-founder Tauseef Khan told The Logical Indian.
The four owners-Tauseef Khan, Nishant Vats, Harshit Gupta and Ashish Ranjan Singh have built three components that cover the entire Agri -value chain and contribute the most in maximising farmer's income namely,
1. Gram Salah for Farm Management- providing Personalised Agronomic Intelligence
2. Gram Uday for providing farmers with access to Agri Input at their doorsteps
3. Gram Vyapar for enabling Post Harvest Market Linkages by bringing Traders, Commission Agents, and Processors together on the same platform
Tech Solutions And Farmer-Centric Approach
Gramophone's end-to-end tech solutions and farmer-centric approach has made lakhs of farmers save more, grow better in the last five years.
"My annual earnings increased to 25 lakh in just 1.5 years. Earlier, I used to make a profit of 1 lakh from a six-acre field, now I am getting much more yield and taking a profit of 13 lakh. This wouldn't have been possible without the guidance given by the Gramophone team. Now my life has changed and I have a home and a car. It was a dream come true for our family," said Shekhar Pemaji, a farmer from Khargone Madhya Pradesh while speaking with The Logical Indian.
At Gramophone, the team works directly with farmers, and act as a farmers' personal crop doctor at each stage of the crop production cycle. Even before sowing, the team works with them on their farm's soil health, by providing soil testing reports and a personalised crop calendar prepared by their experienced agri-experts. Gramophone has an experienced team of more than 350 agri-experts, spread across Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Farmers can connect with the experts via methods including the Gramophone App (multilingual app), Gram Uday Centres (fulfillment centres), Gram Salah (call centre) and field representatives (onsite agronomists).
Farmers get answers to their queries in their own language, buy agri-input products along with free home delivery. Till date, the agri-experts have resolved more than 3 million farmer queries, a milestone in itself.
The start-up's strong delivery network enables it to create an effective end-to-end and close farmer connection. It has delivered agricultural inputs to farmers in more than 25,000 villages of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and are planning to expand to other states like Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
"The impact on the ground has been real and farmers have showered immense trust on us over the years. We have been able to help farmers cut their cost of cultivation and increase overall profits," Tauseef said.
The benefits farmers have reaped so far are the reduction in input cost minimum by 10-15 per cent, increase in farmers' crop yield by 30-40 per cent and the overall net benefit of 50 per cent or more if the practices followed for an entire crop cycle.
Dealing With The Pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic, when a countrywide lockdown was announced, Agritech businesses faced problems, especially in ground operations. However, it also led to numerous beneficial improvements, despite the fact that the growth was slower than expected. After high-speed internet accessibility at affordable prices, a large number of farmers started utilising mobile app solutions for farming practices and has now reached an inflection point where the masses are accessing it.
"Because of Covid-19, our focus has been more to engage via apps, social media channels, SMS, Facebook and YouTube lives on a real-time basis. This has led to a better connection between the brand and the farmers," Tauseef added.In the next few years, Tauseef said the company's approach is to make agriculture sustainable, which involves working on soil health and practising Integrated Crop Management techniques.
Vision To Impact Million Of Farmers
"We have laid strong foundations for the next level of growth and will cross 1 million farmers on the platform by Q1 FY22 and reach 2.5 million farmers by the end of the year. We have the capability of giving personalised nutrition schedules based on Soil Tests and now we are working on building a repository of soil types by partnering with research institutes to build a more personalised nutrition recommendation to a farmer," Tauseef shared.
The company has started monetising Farm Management and aims to convert 10 per cent of farmers to premium versions of Gram Salah. It is also working on match-making and executing trades with processors and traders.
"We have taken an approach to go deeper in every geography where we are present. A key reason for this is distributed demand in more than 6 lakh villages in India. We are building a distributed supply chain to build our network by onboarding existing input suppliers as our partners," Tauseef added.
In addition, the start-up has a strong inventory, order, cash, and reporting platform built in-house, customised for agriculture. It also intends to partner with NBFCs and other lending institutions to facilitate credit to the farming ecosystem.
"Just like the past 5 years, upcoming years will be challenging and we are excited to solve these challenges with our innovative approach," Tauseef concluded.