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Adding more value to agro sector with new ICT tool

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Anil Regmi was one of the six finalists of GFAR and YPARD’s Youth Argripreneur Project. As one of the YAPpers, he received an intensive training helping her strengthen the business plan proposal presented with measurable milestones. Anil was also able to better engage in social media campaigning activities to ensure his project gained support. In addition, he has now has a mentor to help guide him during this upcoming period and make sure his project does succeed.  

And now, it is 5 months later and he continues to relate his experience thus far…

The purpose of my YAP project was to develop a system to make easier access to agro information easier. There are thousands of products and hundreds of brands on the market, but the average farmer has to buy the one which is available in their local stores. For example, there are 10-12 mini tiller brands available here in Nepal from low quality to top quality. As far as the farmer is concerned, they all are mini tillers and can plough well enough. But when they buy randomly and use them, they will surely complain about the product and discourage others about the technology also. On the other hand, the suppliers need brand awareness as well as marketing of their product and services. Another challenge is that the products are being passed through a lot of middlemen before reaching the eventual consumer, which results in farmers hardly making any money in this whole scenario.

Adding to this line of thought, during the course of our work my team and I identified challenges that farmers were facing in terms of buying and selling their products, purchasing agricultural equipment and finding a common place for trading. After our ethnography based studies in a Lamjung village with a farmer and his family for about a week, we saw that designing a platform to facilitate such trading needs is an utmost necessity. At the same time we asked vendors also if they were interested in some kind of platform service provider to market their product. Out of 10 vendors I asked, 7 of them were interested in such service.

After rounds of brainstorming and research we realized the potential of the need and thus created a solution ‘KrishiBajar’, which aims to develop a marketplace system through a website, social media and a mobile application providing information relating to agricultural inputs, tools and machineries, business services and market price information. Through the use of our KrishiBajar solution, we will put business management capabilities in the hands of the farmers. With our technology centric solution, vendors will be able to showcase their product and services. The farmers will also be spared from dealing with the uncertainties of price.

Since my last progress update, we have piloted the v1 (early version of the tool) with our 7 customers (by means of some payment). We have made a mechanism to get connected with customers and take feedback and consumer’s response over the product. With the level of enthusiasm we have seen, we can only expect to grow our market value in the next few months. Promotion is being done via our social media channels and consumers have engaged very positively. Vendors are also getting their value for money. Currently we are working on marketing and web development/design.

Journey of Idea Studio, A business incubation program

Reflecting back, through our involvement in YAP program our team was able to understand agriculture as a business – navigating the usage of mobile applications in agriculture with a broader perspective – and thus adopt a view of increasing socio-economic productivity. We have tried to understand existing initiatives and the experiences of farmers, as well as the potential of mobile technologies to foster the productivity and performance of individual farmers, including the agriculture sector as a whole.

With this knowledge and greater confidence, we applied this summer for a business incubation program called Idea Studio, which would help us to develop our business with skills even beyond those we are learning through the YAP program. Our idea was selected from a pool of over 500 business ideas across many fields to be one of 30 shortlisted business ideas.

During the four-week incubation program we got to know about the struggles and success stories of established Nepalese entrepreneurs from different fields. There were so many business gurus to guide us in daily activities on different business process like business registration, team formation, legal issues, investment and loan procedure. Not only have we learned from business persons, we got to a lot of insights into each other’s business ideas. Some agricultural business ideas may need our marketing services in near future when they turn their idea into an industry. As I had practiced creating and perfecting a business canvas many times thanks to YAP, I advised some of the ideators there for their process.

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As this is a quite new idea in Nepalese context, we needed some kind of promotion that reaches the national and international level. And Idea Studio provides that opportunity, as the Ideators are able to present their ideas on national television for an opportunity to partner with business leaders. After the first episode went on air via the top two national television channels, we got so many encouraging responses regarding the show and people seem interested to know about the idea and how it is being implemented. There are still 5-6 episodes to come, so we can expect good promotion of our new product all over the country and a growth in users of KrishiBajar.

Future plans

We are very satisfied with current growth and insights since we are taking one step at a time. The next task is to enable our system so that users can subscribe and list their products with a short description even via SMS in cases where they do not have internet access and smartphones. Thousands of farmers will be benefited from this kind of service and get the right value for their hard work. Moreover, more agro tools and inputs will be available on our website in coming days as we approach more and more vendors.

Our long term goal is to automate the entire solution so that a farmer can enter their products in our system, which will be added to a catalogue of products in our database, and the buyers-sellers can trade easily without any manual intervention.  We are planning to develop a customer relationship management extension for individual customers to manage their orders and purchase so that this can help to digitize their data and analysis.

Watch Anil’s pitch on Idea Studio here.

Blogpost by Anil Regmi (waytomeanil(at)gmail.com), one of six finalists in the Youth Agripreneurs Project, a pilot project targeting young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”), co-organized by GFAR and YPARD. 

Reblogged from the GFAR blog.

Image courtesy: 1-Anil regmi; 2-Idea Studio