Called ‘Krishi Plus”, the physical service is a paid one
Krishi Network, an app-based community platform linking the farming community with agricultural experts, merchants, buyers and financial services, has launched its first physical service “Krishi Plus” to handhold farmers towards scientific farming, its co-founder Ashish Mishra has said.
The service was launched in Bihar’s Muzzafarpur district on May 15 and will entail agronomists visiting the farmer twice a month. “The agronomist will inspect the farm to see if there is any problem with the crop. He will then connect them with relevant experts, explain the problem and give advice,” Mishra told BusinessLine.
Documenting farm work
The service, a paid one, also provides for soil testing and giving farmers a facility— Fasal Diary—to make a note and track every farm activity they carry. “The objective of the dairy is that a farmer does 50 experiments during his lifetime. The diary will document all this for the next generation,” he said.
Basically, a lot of agricultural knowledge has remained undocumented. The Fasal Diary will encourage them to document this knowledge. “Farmers have to pay ₹401 a month for the service or ₹1,001 for three months. The quarterly subscription offers free soil testing and the Fasal Diary offer,” the firm’s co-founder said.
The service is witnessing good demand from farmers. Whenever the firm’s staff go on a visit to a farm, two or three farmers buy the service. “Farmers want us to continue to service. We have nearly 60 subscriptions for the paid service,” he said.
There is no hesitation whatsoever from the farmers to subscribe to this paid service since they will get to earn anywhere between ₹40,000 and ₹50,000 once they harvest their crop. “In the end, farmers, too are businessmen,” Mishra said.
The service is available in the Bhagwani region, a flood-infested area, where horticulture crops such as litchis, mangoes and bananas are grown. “Muzzafarpur is also the base for many agri-tech firms and we are proving ourselves in an area where there are agri-tech players,” he said.
Krishi Network offers its service on the app free of cost. The app tries to provide answers to all technical queries from farmers within 15 minutes. In this effort, it is backed by 8,000 experts identified by governments and Krishi Vigyan Kendras.
“Through these experts, we unlock the knowledge for farmers,” the firm’s co-founder said. The app has been installed by over 30 lakh farmers so far with at least about one lakh farmers using it daily.
The app was launched in Hindi on January 1, 2018. Last year, Marathi and Punjabi languages were added, while in March this year, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada and Telugu were added. Malayalam, Bengali and Odiya will soon be added with Assamese and Urudu following them. “By June-end, we will be present across major languages in India,” Mishra said.
While Krishi Plus is one of the firm’s efforts to monetise its services, there is also another service through which the firm earns.
“Recently, we acquired one of our clients, Rocket Skills, which was offering training courses for farmers. The courses are offered online at a competitive price of ₹500 and many have availed of it. It has been renamed Krishi Safal. At least 35 per cent of them complete the course, which is very high for an online venture,” Mishra said.
At least 10,000 persons have availed of the courses so far, while the total number of persons who took the online classes before became Krishi Safal is 16,000, he claimed.
“Following the success of these online courses, we are now planning a hybrid model which combines online courses with farm visits. We are mapping the farms farms for the hybrid model,” Mishra said.
Krishi Network is witnessing referral-led growth currently with even farmers in Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Rajasthan helping it to expand.
Farmers Benefit Programme
The firm, which has about 70 employees across the country, has also an advertisement platform—Farmers Benefit Programme. The platform will help brands to directly connect with farmers and provide them benefits directly, which otherwise would go to a distributor or retailer.
“Tractor firms, seed companies, agro-chemical firms, insurance and finance companies are part of this programme. Companies on this platform will also know how their competitors are faring and which product of theirs is doing well,” Mishra said.
Krishi Network, which has targeted to rope in 500 farmers for its Plus scheme in a month’s time, plans to raise funds further. Krishi Network launched the app’s coding in October 2017 and credits its success to the internet penetration in rural areas on the back of Jio’s launch in 2016.