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'Gramophone is set up to provide last mile delivery of agriculture inputs to farmers'

28 Dec 2019

Looking at a huge gap in farmers' access to quality agriculture input, Gramophone came into existence that will provide all kinds of inputs for the farmers.

NEW DELHI, 28 December 2019: Looking at a huge gap in farmers' access to quality agriculture input, Gramophone came into existence that will provide all kinds of inputs for the farmers.

Our company has been focused to help farmers buy genuine crop protection, crop nutrition, seeds, implements, and agri hardware at their doorstep, Gramophone Co-founder Harshit Gupta said.

Speaking on the sidelines of an international conference on crop-science exhibition in Gurgaon, Haryana state recently on how their company is assisting farmers, Singh said, "Based in Madhya Pradesh, we are catering to over 350,000 farmers in the state and provide them localized package of practice, crop advisory, weather information coupled with the best products to grow with no cost."

The company is operating for 3.6 years and has also chalked out plans to expand in other states, which is under implementation.

How the system works

Explaining further how this works, Singh said," We have created two channels to reach all villages. The first channel is providing free advisory service and second an e-commerce platform, where farmers can buy any crop protection, crop nutrition, seeds, implements, and agri hardware.

With our technology, we can provide the right advice and right follow-ups.  We provide them with proper information step by step, so that farmer doesn't lose interest.

For example, If I give a note to farmers on how to manage the crop, and give all details after 10 days of seeding what to do and after 30 days what steps need to be taken. Farmers will not do it, as there is no follow up, whether the farmer is following the instructions or not.

In another case, if farmers attend the meeting and are explained in detail about the crop, but after 15 days, we cannot expect that farmers have understood everything and he/she will do as it was explained in the meet.

This is where Gramophone comes in, providing advice to farmers on time and following it up the farmers on regulator intervals. With our regular follow up, farmers follow instructions and get desired results.

Expansion plan in place

With the response we have received from our services, we are now looking to expand the operations in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh. In the next one to two years, we are looking to add a million farmers, but to be specific, we are going to one million farmers in the next six months.

Emphasizing further Singh said that we believe that technology can remove information asymmetry in the agriculture system. This will improve productivity and help farmers sustainably increase the income from agriculture. It also boasts of having a full e-commerce system with inventory channel, distribution, and logistics team providing a doorstep delivery service.

Sharing services through the app, call centers?

The company is serving the farmers through a mobile application, retail stores, fields staff, and call centers. It has four retail stores across the state. The stores are based within a 50 km radius and looking to add six more taking the total to 10 retails stores in the state in the coming months.

The company official said that they are only providing services to farmers from soil preparation, seed treatment until the time of harvesting, not beyond that.

Does the policy framework need to be streamlined?

The industry has made many changes in the business model, but there is a lot to do in the policy framework, as this has been outdated and we are still using polices framed in the 60s, which have now become irrelevant. 

The government always treats the pesticide sector as an industry harming the sector, or environment, this needs to change. Though some work has been done in connecting agriculture markets through National Agriculture Market (eNAM) platform under the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC).

Internet penetration is responsible for this?

The company says that its services would have not been possible without internet penetration and access to smartphones by farmers. With over 60% of the country's population associated directly or indirectly with agriculture, technology will play a key role in another agriculture revolution.

The first agriculture revolution in India was recorded in the 1960s under the leadership of MS Swaminathan, an agriculture scientist.

Other than seeds, fertilizers, the company also sells tractors and other farm equipment. It has also entered the animal health sector and sells micro-nutrients of US-based MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co in Madhya Pradesh directly to farmers.

Raised a few million

The company in August 2019 have raised USD $3.5 million (INR 24 crore) in a Series -A round from existing investor InfoEdge, which owns Naukri.com, and impact investors Asha Impact and Better Capital, among others. Prior to this round, it has raised USD $1 million in March 2018.

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