The agricultural landscape in India is fast changing. Internet of Things (IoT) has been growing exponentially in India and not only does IoT have a big impact in the Healthcare, Automotive, Technology, Retail and Travel industries but also in the field of Agriculture.
With features that enable smart farming, better pest control, remote sensors, soil moisture measurements, crop cycle management and improved reach and connectivity through SMS and WhatsApp, farmers have been able to increase their yield, reduce waste and gain higher profits.
Despite the advancement of technology for better agriculture, the bulk of Indian farmers continue to sell their crop to village-level dealers and produce aggregators. In the olden days and the age old practice still continue with majority of farmers in India – farmers offload their produce to local dealers aka middlemen who decide on the price. These dealers would then mark up the price and sell it to consumers or other retail stores. In such deals, farmers get the short end of the stick. Majority of the farmers do not take their crop to mandis or to government agencies or cooperatives where they could get a better price.
Agriculture market in India for selling crops is fragmented and this fragmentation hinders free flow of agri commodities from one market area to another. Multiple handlers are the ones who make fat profits while the consumers pay a steep price without a corresponding benefit to the farmer.
In 2016, the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) released ‘Some Aspects of Farming in India’ report which showed that almost 85 per cent of coconut growers sell their produce to retailers and dealers in their immediate neighbourhood instead of approaching mandis. Out of other crops such as paddy, wheat, jowar etc, nearly 50 percent were sold through retailers and dealers as well.
Based on the government initiative, all states in the country except three of them have the mandate to market and sell the farm produce through mandis owned by individual states and or to retail markets without the need of a middleman. There are 6,746 such mandis and each one is located at a gap of 462 km. The government also aims to set up a wholesale market at every 80 km.
Most states have agreed to implement the new model Act proposed by the government. It is believed that this implementation will help in doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
“We aim to promote healthy competition by breaking down the existing monopolies of traders and middlemen,” said Ashok Dalwai, additional secretary at the agriculture ministry.
With the ability to sell to mandis that would fetch better prices for the crop, the next challenge would be to find out how? Where does a farmer go and how does he know if he is getting a better deal in one mandi and not the other?
My Farm Info, a software tool allows farmers to check different mandi prices in real time. Farmers can also look for mandis near them to sell their crops. With a listing of over 39 nearby showing the distance in kilometers and prices for each crop, farmers can choose the best mandi based on the distance and cost that is suitable for them to sell their crop. The price for selling at the Mandi’s will fetch 15-20% more than what the farmers can get by selling their crop to the middlemen and village-level dealers.
Myfarm Info not only helps farmers to sell their crops for a better price, but also work with the farmers in helping them better the quality and quantity of their yield. My farm info uses Internet of Things to prevent and mitigate crop losses for Farmer, Insurance Companies, and Government Stakeholders. With MyFarm info, farmers can begin to see results in such short time and by using this platform, they are able to reap benefits within the same season. The crop management section in this tool helps farmers find the probability of disease infestation in their crop ahead of time. Sophisticated algorithms are used from the last 10 years of historical data to find disease probability for farmer’s crop. Forecast Advisory can also be used by farmers to get early warning of disease infestation so they can take proper measures to minimize their losses.
Working with the potato farmers in West Bengal, My Farm Info was able to increase farmer’s revenue by Rs 130 per day. Potato farmers in West Bengal’s key struggle have been to deliver potatoes based on the quality requirement set by Pepsico and therefore face a high rejection rate.Their potato produce was greenish in color, high in water and sugar content and the reason for poor quality of the produce is because of improper irrigation management that leads to sub-optimal yields. By monitoring soil, water retention, weather forecasts, pests etc, helped potato farmers in increasing the quality and quantity of their production.