India’s farm crisis is decades-old and with deep roots. Traders and buyers dominate the mandi ecosystem, forcing farmers to accept the price set by them, given the high transport cost and the perishable nature of the crops. The solution lies in connecting farmers to their markets and cutting off the middlemen. Farmpal Technologies’s technology-driven integrated supply chain approach is doing exactly that. This Pune-based venture has established a connection with over 1,000 farmers, of which 400 farmers actively supply their crops toit. It offers a sale price that is at a 15-30% premium over what the farmers receive in mandis, where they sell to middlemen according to the prevailing market price. Farmpal pays the farmers through online bank transfers, or in a few special cases cash on delivery.
“Our mission is to organise the post-harvest supply chain so farmers have better access to alternate markets, improved incomes by receiving a fair price for their produce and more broadly, reduce inefficiencies across the supply chain so all stakeholders are benefited,” says Puneet Sethi, co-founder, Farmpal. With this mission, Sethi and the other co-founder, Karan Hon, started building on the idea of Farmpal in 2017. “We connect farmers directly with end-consumers (local kiranas, hawkers, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants) in the urban areas. The company uses technology as an enabler to manage the end-to-end supply chain including all logistics. A mobile app at the front-end connects with the farmers and our customers. This is backed by a powerful ERP solution at the back-end that helps us streamline inventory management, order cycles, supply-demand forecasts and analytics for all other functional areas,” informs Sethi.
Farmpal commenced its operations in January 2018. Sethi says, “We have our collection centres across five locations in Maharashtra and two distribution centres in Pune. We commenced supply fresh vegetables and fruits to over 300 kirana and retail stores in Pune; to all big supermarkets – More, Star Bazar, Big Bazaar, Big Basket. Our customers also include some premium brands from the HoReCa (Hotels, Restaurants & Caterers) segment. Additionally, to reach the end-consumer directly, we have partnered with platforms such as Dunzo and Swiggy.”
Volumes on Farmpal average 12 tonnes a day, and its business has grown more than 50% quarter-on-quarter. It has raised two rounds of angel funding in March 2019 and January 2020 and is working towards a pre-series A/Series A round in the next six months.
According to the two co-founders, Farmpal continues to focus on increasing its footprint both on the supply side, in terms of farmer tie-ups across Maharashtra and in other states; and on the demand side by retailer customer acquisition in Pune, and then Navi Mumbai, Mumbai and cities in Gujarat. It is also looking at increasing supplies to supermarkets in other States. It has piloted a new segment during these Covid-19 times —direct supply to housing societies or a collection of customers in a local area through a “business owner” model.
“We have in our tech roadmap use of Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence to better predict demand and map supply, which will further help us forecast demand requirements to our farmers, and keep working on matching demand supply patterns to minimise wastage,” says Sethi, adding, “On the operations side – IoT, RFID technologies, route planning solutions, advanced analytics are some of the innovations we have planned down the line.”