Sacred River Agri Technologies (Krishhika): Helping Farmers To Enhance Their Efficiency And Productivity

Anshumali Dwivedi,MD & CEOIn terms of technical, financial, and regulatory developments, India's agricultural sector is set to enter a revolutionary era during the next decade. Traditional agricultural methods will be displaced by newer, more sustainable farming methods, along with digital penetration, leading to more data driven intervention in farming. As India is an agriculturally intensive country, there are many small and medium farmers that have insufficient understanding about improved farming methods, seed types, and so on, posing obstacles to crop productivity and overall profitability. As a result, farmers require good quality guidance to achieve the necessary efficiency and output.

With a farmercentric approach, Sacred River Agri Technologies Pvt. Ltd. has been totally focused on putting together best-in-class technology and practices to positively influence the livelihoods of farmers in Central and Eastern Uttar Pradesh with 20 state-of-the-art centres across 10 districts. Each of these centres has a team of trained agronomists covering nearly 50-60 villages around their respective centres.

In 2020, the organization launched a pilot project of Agri Retail stores to provide farmers with counseling and agricultural inputs, resulting in the creation of a new farmer-focused brand called Krishika. The organization has quickly established a unique m-commerce model, in which agri professionals who are qualified agronomists carry the Krishika Kisaan eMart mobile app to help farmers at the grass root level throughout each site.

"There are firms that are attempting to be tech only, with minimum presence on the ground. We are attempting to physically arrive at the farmer's door, while using digital technology as an enabler, with our "Phygital" model. Our greatest strength is our ability to engage with farmers and create long-term relationships with them. Because crop lifecycle management is our primary service, we place a high value on physical farm visits and Kisaan Goshthis (famer meetings) by our agri specialists. Farmers also visit us at our centres to physically see the seeds and other agri inputs they are procuring, says Anshumali Dwivedi, Founder & MD of the company.
"We educate the farmers about the various varieties of seeds according to the season and sowing cycle, as well as optimum production methods to get a better harvest. We also guide them when it comes to the correct dosage of fertilizers, agro chemicals, micronutrients , etc to derive a better yield.

Over chemicalization of agriculture is a major problem being faced by Indian agriculture. Some farmers seem to have a view that the more chemicals they use, the higher would be the output. This has resulted in widespread soil and groundwater contamination. To address this serious issue, we spend a significant amount of time training farmers on the correct amount and mix of inputs to use per acre. We also actively promote the use of bio fertilizers and bio chemicals, which can help the farmers move away from harmful chemicals," he adds.

Leveraging Technology To Drive Innovation
In just one and a half years of operation, the firm has digitally onboarded 25,000 farmers. After the farmer is registered and onboarded there is a highly skilled data analytics staff at the back end that processes the data to get the necessary insights. The data being collected is granular, such as how much land holding he has, how many cattle heads he has, members in the family, Kisaan credit card, crop insurance, the varieties of seeds purchased by the farmer every season, the type of farm inputs he's received from Krishika, what sort of inputs he's taken from others in the market, among other things.

With this level of data being collected and then updated regularly, the data analytics team at Krishika will be able to anticipate the product-wise demand, anticipated yield, the level of risk associated with a particular crop in a given year.Furthermore, this data is extremely relevant and may be utilised to develop agriinsurance and agricredit solutions. The firm is also attempting to use this data for demand estimation, in which one can estimate what variety of seeds will be used in which area, what the soil condition in that region is, and what the typical agronomic techniques are in that area; thus becoming granular at the block and village level.

"Our customer retention and stickiness is extremely high. Some of the early farmers who benefited from our centres are now acting as local influencers, which is resulting in faster customer acquisition for us. We have close to 12,000 farmers that follow our Facebook page. As a result, we strive to answer the many questions we receive regularly on Facebook Messenger. We also have WhatsApp groups for each of our centres, as well as a cloud-based farmer helpline.

All inquiries on the farmer helpline are sent to our Lucknow office, where our top agriculture specialists work. We have two PhDs and an MSc on our team, each with over 25 years of expertise, who train and supervise the remainder of the agronomic staff deputed on the field. We are seeing a 300 percent YoY increase as a result of our expertise in the sector, and our focused approach to being a "phygital" company" explains Anshumali.

Robust Roadmap
Sacred River Agri Technologies is continually broadening its geographical reach. It has begun onboarding partner stores known as Krishika Kisaan e-marts, in which a licensed partner store or an FPO is onboarded via the app. The company is also engaging rural micro-entrepreneurs as village representatives who are trained through the Krishika Kisaan Saarathi programme and are provided the corporate version of the Krishika mobile app. These Kisaan Saarathis conduct surveys and collect orders on behalf of farmers using this app, highlighting Krishika's unique assisted m-commerce model. The Krishika network subsequently processes and delivers these orders.

"We hope to add around 100 partner stores before next season. So there is a major exponential growth coming along. We are also launching products under our house brand, that will provide farmers with micronutrients and chemical free bio inputs at very reasonable prices. In addition, we are now attempting to enter the rural insurance market and begin promoting insurance products that will be available later this year," concludes Anshumali.