September 25, 2023
Closer To The Soil

Closer To The Soil

Aug 8, 2022

The emergence of digital infrastructure, higher internet penetration in rural regions and improved ease of access to farmer inputs are all contributing to the rapid growth of India’s agritech market. In the last four years, agritech businesses have seen extraordinary development and increased attention from venture capitalists. Keeping this in the backdrop and an opportunity, startup marathoner Amith Agarwal set up AgriBazaar, India’s largest, tech-enabled agriculture marketplace in 2016.

AgriBazaar is Amith’s third startup after StarAgri and AgriWise. Elaborating on what inspired him to develop these tech companies, he mentions, “Early on in my entrepreneurial journey, I realised that tech could address some of the significant problems in the agriculture sector and the ailing food processing industry. The idea that tech could address several critical issues in the entire value chain while reaping dividends for the farmers and pushing economic growth inspired me to start AgriBazaar. The agricultural sector and farmer community form the foundation of the entire value chain, so they are essential for me.”

Born and brought up in Rajasthan, Amith’s passion always lay in the ‘closer to the soil’ initiatives. He has been closer to his roots, even though for a better part of his life he has lived and worked in Mumbai. He belongs to a family of commodity traders and during his growing years, he learned from his father about the various elements of business. Later on, to polish his learnings and get better equipped with business acumen, he pursued MBA in Economics and Marketing from Chetna Institute of Management, Mumbai. In 2017, he completed Business Administration and Management from Harvard Business School Executive Education, USA. Today, along with his wife and two children, he is settled in Mumbai and spearheads the growth of his venture.

Amith Agarwal, Founder, AgriBazaar India

The Changemaker

AgriBazaar is a solution-led and futuristic initiative, the seeds of which were sown years back through his humble journey of life. Today, the venture is moving beyond a pure-play marketplace and heading into agri-advisory, crop identification and estimation. “The agritech startup is using satellite imagery for crop identification and estimation, and remote sensing to provide farmers information on climate-based cultivation patterns. It delivers tech-enabled, future-ready solutions to the farming community and revolutionises the way post-harvest management services are processed across the country. The platform is also planning to add new technologies like crop yielding to help farmers,” explains Amith.

By digitising the agri-value-chain, AgriBazaar has reduced agri-trade commissions from 2-3 per cent to 0.5 per cent. The digitised ecosystem makes the value chain authentic, transparent, traceable, and offers proof of origination to companies. While their efforts minimize the inefficiencies in the complex system, it helps farmers earn better value for their produce.

A Unique Initiative

AgriBazaar has a strong team of over 300 professionals including engineers, coders and agri-specialists in marketing, sourcing, quality control and strategy. Each team member displays a diverse skill set and core expertise to address the various needs. While digital adoption has increased amongst farmers, digital literacy and low disposable income to pay for registration are a few challenges that still hinder operations. Understanding this, the team has made the AgriBazaar app intuitive and easy to operate. They have also transformed the app into a knowledge and advisory centre for farmers to get more value. The app gets upgraded with additional features by the week, and the team has waived off registration fees on the platform during the pandemic to benefit the community further. Consequently, the app has witnessed a 400 per cent jump in downloads and registrations.

“An essential part of promoting the cause of farmers is to understand them. We are constantly finding ways to build deeper connections with them across regions and geographies. Additionally, we aim to establish a network of 10,000 agri-micropreneurs across the 300 districts in India who will be the one-stop resource for all agricultural needs of the small farmers. On the basis of understanding their challenges, we continue to highlight their concerns at appropriate forums and in meetings with the Government and the private sector,” mentions Amith.

Sowing Possibilities

Startup Marathoner

Amith is fondly regarded as the startup marathoner in the industry. “I am most passionate about creating new startups that can address specific sectoral challenges. I also have a strong interest in constantly working on new business ideas while building new companies along the way. Hence, I got the tag of startup marathoner. I also believe in encouraging startup entrepreneurs who are scaling disrupting ideas and have invested in a few good startups in an individual capacity,” he smiles.

“Bankers, vendor partners, investors, and stakeholders have helped us in this journey. The Marwari community is closely knit, and I have deep connections with many leading stalwarts who have always supported me. What AgriBazaar is doing will boost quality trade across food and grain verticals and the local retail sector in a significant way. Our organisation’s mission is to empower the farming community by delivering efficiency, transparency, and traceability in the agriculture value chain through technology.”

Balancing Work and Leisure

Amith’s way of doing business is simple and he wants to walk the honest road to succeed. At a professional level, he tries to spend significant time with industry associations and trade bodies to take up the cause of farmers and improve farmer-led issues at the ground level. In his personal time, he loves to indulge in his best interests. Among his areas of interest, reading up on business strategy is a big aspect. He also loves to read autobiographies of Indian business leaders. Being health conscious, he likes to be fit and hence long walks, cycling and outdoor activities, especially with his kids, are a priority for this busy businessman. He enjoys road travel, to closely experience local culture, cuisine and traditions.

About balancing work and leisure, Amith believes in balancing his work and personal life. “I am a family-oriented person, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance has helped me deliver efficiently at work. My family extends solid emotional and valuable support to me in running my enterprises. A simple, refreshing discussion at the dinner table can often rejuvenate me to tackle a complex business problem,” he signs off.

Agarwal with his parents

Business Mantras

  • Be passionately persistent, and success will be yours.
  • The customer (farmer) should be at the centre of your business model.
  • Build a team of exceptional people around you, and the rest will be taken care of.