Author: Naveen Lamghare
The Role and Advent of Technology in the Emerging Agri Space
For any emerging or developing economy, the Agricultural landscape plays a crucial role in nation building. The agriculture industry in such economies is also very diverse, and full of potential, as is evident in India with complex problems existing in multi-layered unregulated supply chains. The core problem statement can be broken down into the following:
- Less Margins: for farmers and retailers due to middlemen
- Food Wastage: up to 40% food is wasted due to longer and inefficient supply chain
- Transparency: no visibility for sellers and buyers on the right price points
- Longer Payment cycles: traditional ways lead to months of delay, with payment terms dictated by the market.
To solve for such problems and with the intent of adding value to key stakeholders in this value chain, Ninjacart started its journey from Bangalore India in 2015 and has evolved to become India’s largest Agri Tech Platform for Sourcing and distribution of fresh farm produce, spread over 8 major cities, 40+ towns with a network of over 200 warehouses. This sustainable ecosystem connects 1,00,000 farmers to 80,000 retailers & wholesalers and empowers over 20,000 transport partners to move over 1500 tonnes of produce every day. How did we get here? – by building an end-to-end, state of the art, tech-enabled supply chain. A supply chain that achieves the perfect synergy between People, Process and Technology is quintessential for the growth and scalability of any Agri-output or fulfilment business. However, tech plays the most crucial role here, acting as an enabler for the other two. With the right technology, you can foster automation, minimize human errors and enable traceability & profitability in your business.
Let’s understand how crucial the role of technology actually is with the help of a few examples and scenarios.
- Market Discovery: Systems that can capture important information of the market such as sourcing (farmer database), pricing, consumption patterns etc. and institutionalize it
- Decision Making: Systems that can analyze the data gathered, and provide actionable insights such as which SKUs to sell, from where to procure them, at what price points (margins) to buy and sell, and how to process and transport it
- On-ground Execution: Systems that facilitate order taking, collections, manage warehouse(s), control inventory, plan logistics and unit economics
- Optimization: Systems that drive process process governance, establish SOPs (standard operating procedure), enable forecasting, traceability & P&L visibility, track performance and achieve overall operational excellence.
Fig. The ideal Tech ecosystem for an emerging Agr-output business
These characteristics are the stepping stones for creating the right tech ecosystem for any organization in today’s world. More importantly, in a narrow margin business like FnV, these attributes can provide startups with the key to success. A lot of Agri startups have started to realize this today, but the fundamental challenge for them is to identify the right technology roadmap that suits their current needs and also aligns with their growth vision. Then there is the age-old conundrum – whether to build or buy. And if buy – are there options? We have addressed that in detail in our earlier blog Supply Chain Management – To Build or To Buy?. But if a startup sets out to build the technology themselves, it would warrant the right use of their time and resource bandwidth. This time and resources can be otherwise used for strengthening the core business and market expansion.
As the organization solidifies their existing business model and achieves desired critical mass, they would either eventually want to diversify their portfolio or look to increase their impact on the Agri industry. Some fathomable examples could be – creating a lending ecosystem, domestic & cross border trade, agri ecommerce etc. With continual innovation and thought leadership, there is limitless potential to what the technology can help solve for the Agri community. Ninjacart, having pioneered the agritech solution space in India, has already ventured into this territory and has ready to market solutions for all stakeholders in the Agri ecosystem. With our increasing global community of like-minded startups and partners, we are making our technology, knowledge & experience open to all, as we strive to solve the Food security problems of the world.
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