A farmer in a remote village in Maharashtra, Atul, is preparing his land for the Kharif season but he isn’t sure what he wants to grow on his farm. He knows most of the farmers in his village are going to sow Soybean instead of Maize. This is happening because last year two farmers grew Soybean and got amazing prices at the mandi. But will they get good prices if the whole village grew one crop? He isn’t sure.
Atul believes in taking feedback from multiple people. He goes to the Sarpanch, meets the best farmer in his taluka, and then travels 70 kms to meet the Agri dealers at the market place. He ends up getting confused. The dealers talk to him about a new product being launched by a well-known company. They also try to convince him to buy a few low-priced unbranded products which are supposed to give bumper yields.
But has any farmer used these products and shared a review that it performs well?
Or the dealer earns handsome margins on them, hence, he is trying to hard sell it?
But in a parallel universe, Atul believes he is not just a farmer but a businessman as well.
His phone helps him plan his year out in advance. On the basis of his current location, an application shows him all the products which will go well in his region and season.
And every product is discounted for him. He can study the details of the product, he could read the reviews from other farmers and decide whether he wants to buy it on the rating given by fellow farmers from around India.
He can also look at Product Recommendations which is a list of products relevant for him basis his historical data, his farm, his region, etc. Machine Learning logic helps decide what is the best portfolio for Atul.
After deciding the product portfolio which is the best fit for this season, he wants to know which market he wants to buy this from. And the application takes him to a map view where he can see where his products are available. He can also decide how far he wants to travel basis the final total price he is to pay. So, if he wants to travel an extra 20 km to get a Rs. 2000 discount, it will be upto him.
He can also click on a dealer on the map, call him and ask him before he plans his travel.
And now Atul also can go to his wall to be doubly sure before buying a product. He can review posts by the organizations (which have technical videos) and see the posts of progressive farmers who have employed forward looking techniques and got great results. When Atul becomes an influencer farmer, he gets to create his own posts which other farmers can benefit from!
In this connected world, knowledge is power and the ability to choose, heavenly!
If an organization shares a content which is useful to the farming community, it is bound to go viral to millions of farmers. The key is to share a concept which is original and value adding.
If the farmers see value in what the companies are sharing, it spreads like wildfire. And this becomes the best marketing campaign, doesn’t it?
The dealers are happy too because they are visible to the farmers on a map. The farmer can search for them, and call them. Nobody thought of marketing them (and their shops) before!
And the Agri input Manufacturers are happy too. How?
There are two major challenges an Ag Manufacturer faces – Distribution and Marketing. What if the ‘connected’ and ‘online’ farmer and dealer were to solve both these challenges?
The companies today are dependent on the traditional distribution system to sell their products. But this has been the case for decades – the dependence on distributors and dealers, that is.
Also, the Marketing Manager still wonders what the Return On Investment of his Marketing campaigns is and what his Cost of Acquiring a Customer is?
In the parallel world, the system gives the power in the hands of not just the farmers and dealers but the Ag manufacturers too.
To be able to see the dashboard and get real insights of the market and the customers and to be able to take corrective actions basis that, is the real need.
The ability to capture real farmer data and not the static database of farmers which has been the practice for ages! And to be able to know whether these farmers who saw the communication, actually came to the dealer and bought the products, is almost like magic. But technology helps us understand the real ROI.
Imagine the ability to be able to understand the medium of communication which is the most effective. And the ability to be able to pin point whether other external factors also influence the farmer buying pattern using each of these mediums.
The options are immense. But the challenges are more difficult today. A farmer in India earns around $3/ day even though the country has one of the highest arable lands in the world.
Technology which could easily be accessible in rural India is the key. The parallel world which has been hypothesised in this article is already coming true for thousands of farmers. It would not be long before this spreads over to millions of farmers. As it so happens the dealers and the companies are saying aye too!
Reference: Silicon India Startup City Magazine