How Is ‘IFFCO kisan’ Deploying Tech To Provide For Tech Cure Farming?
The IFFCO kisan Agri app reaches out to farmers and their image recognition feature helps get a better picture of the problems farmers face
With the help of intensive telecom penetration, IFFCO Kisan comes up with a wide array of alternatives to support the farmers with timely, relevant, and quality information. The objective being to improve their decision making to ensure enhanced opportunities for livelihood with effective cost reduction.
Under this, services such as Green Sim, IFFCO Kisan Agriculture Mobile App, Kisan Call Centre Services, etc. serve as a powerhouse of knowledge coming with its entourage of latest information leveraging vast experiences from agriculture to animal husbandry, weather, market rates, government schemes, etc. to suit the local requirements while burgeoning rural development.
Morup Namgail, Head Agri-tech, IFFCO-Kisan tell us more about his business model.
How is IFFCO kisan ensuring to abide by ‘Vocal for Local’?
IFFCO KISAN, being a farmer-centric organization with a vision to improve the quality of farmers’ lives, abides by the ‘vocal for local’ concept in letter and spirit.
India is primarily an agrarian economy with the majority of its population involved in farming practices. Our work focuses on empowering these farmers through ICT platforms, training them by undertaking capacity-building measures and facilitating them with bespoke services, motivating them to make it as ‘local’ as possible.
With the help of the ICT platform, we promote millions of farmers with contextualized advisories on crop package practices which is locally sourced from Krishi Vigyan Kendras, agri-universities. Farmers are also encouraged to grow domestically developed seed varieties.
In capacity building and training, the focus revolves around training the local youths in using technology, post-harvest handling practices, processing, and grading of commodities to ensure the farmers can benefit more from their produce.
‘Swaranahar’, an IFFCO Kisan brand is an outcome of the various activities the company puts forward in terms of advisories, farm traceability, enabling technology, capacity building, etc. for the farmers associated with us through the FPO or Cooperative Societies. Through this brand, the company intends to connect the farmers produce directly with the consumers and give them maximum benefits.
Could you acquaint us with your Agro ICT services and how is technology paving the way?
We started with our flagship product, Green SIM platform almost a decade ago. A simple and innovative way to disseminate customized, timely, and actionable advisories to the farmers in 10 Indian local languages as a pre-recorded call. The service transcends the literacy barrier among the farmers as the technology is simple and easy to use where a farmer only needs to answer the call. The message-mix were drafted carefully by a large number of content experts keeping the key factors in mind such as demography, agro-climatic zones, soil conditions, hyper-local weather conditions, crop varieties, etc.
Around 4 Mn farmers are benefiting through this service, many of whom depend on ‘IFFCO Kisan’ as their primary source of information specially curated for their agriculture-related practices and have been connected with us for over 6 to 7 years long. We cover the length and breadth of our country’s diverse Agro-climatic zone (over 108), over 55 field crops, 178 horticultural crops and their thousands of varieties, animal care & nutrition management, critical advisories on tidal length, oceanic alerts, potential fishing zone for fishermen, relevant information on Health, Employment and Govt. schemes. In order to enhance the reach, over 75 focused partnerships are operational with like-minded Govt. and Non-Govt. players
With the evolving complexities in agriculture brought about by climate change, through increasing penetration of smartphones in rural areas and the advent of technological development in agriculture, we have introduced advanced Agri-tech services offering ‘near-real-time’ communication through our mobile application. Further, the data-centric approach looks at transforming the advisories from traditional package of practices to locally aligned business advisories supported by integrations such as ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI) backed image analysis, NPK dosage calculators, crop simulation models, satellite imagery-based NDVI analysis.
What do you think is the estimated market size of the agri tech firms in India?
As per a recent Nasscom report, the agritech space has seen funding’s close to $248 million till June 2019, as compared to the 2018 number with around $73 million— a 300% growth in less than a year. The size of the market seems to be growing at a fast pace but there is still a long way to go for the sector to reach the last mile farmers. Our experience in the last few years has been encouraging where a large number of enterprises have subscribed to our services and facilitated the farmers with advanced technological interventions. So there is a clear rise in the usage of technology through enterprises – be it the govt. or non-govt. institutes paving the way for an interesting case of ‘man-machine’ hybrid model to evolve and penetrate the market at large.
How many farmers do you have aboard at present?
Presently, we are connected with around 4 million farmers across the country. Catering to almost all the major and minor crops grown, serving their needs on topics ranging from agri-allied, education, health, animal husbandry, government schemes.
Don’t you think the dependence on technology can act as a double-edged sword sometimes, especially while operating with people that aren’t really tech-savvy?
We always believe and maintain a ‘bottom’s up approach’ rather than a ‘top-down approach’ in tech development, meaning developing or integrating suitable technologies as per the needs of the farmer. The advancements and acceptance of technology is bound to happen and being a ‘techno-utopian’ enterprise, we see technology playing a critical role in shaping the agribusiness sector in India. The tech literacy among the farmers is improving day by day with their increasing accessibility and affordability of smartphones as well as with the increasing participation of the youth in agricultural practices. Our assisted technology utilization model/ man-machine hybrid model has been designed especially to give the required push to this ongoing digital transformation.
Could you share some anecdotes by the farmers on using IFFCO kisan?
We have gathered over 2000 scientifically collected anecdotal stories from across our platforms. Some of which stood out for us during the past year are as below:
We empowered around 100 farmers with our technology and ground support in Nashik to grow tomatoes of a particular variety suitable to our client. The climatic conditions took an unfavourable turn with extended rainfall and flooding in the area pushing the sowing and transplanting period. However, we continued to support the farmers and managed to clock an acreage of over 8500 MT from 250 acres. One of the farms yielded over 45 MT per acre which is a standout result for us and the farmers.
In another instance, an FPO in Gujarat gained through our similar interventions where a group of farmers started by forming a farmer club and eventually progressed to become a successful FPO dealing in cumin commodity clocking an annual turnover of around Rs. 3 Cr.
Similarly, thousands of farmers benefit from our weather advisories, helping them in spraying agri-inputs at an appropriate time eventually saving unnecessary expenses; get localized mandi rates directly on their phones which prevents them from incurring additional transportation costs. Moreover, they can directly connect with the experts through helpline which aids them with the best package of practices.
The IFFCO kisan Agri app has a decent rating on Play Store. How many downloads has it seen so far. Any plans of going global?
We have close to 9 lakh users who have downloaded our mobile app so far with a high monthly and daily active user base.
We do have plans to expand our core services to our neighbouring countries soon and hopefully customize the content and technology modules and gradually make our reach global.
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