How e-platforms can become a potent booster for agriculture
−− With 200 million active internet users living in rural India, technology can help small- and medium-sized farmers leap into prosperity.
Jun. 22, 2020
By Pankajj Ghode
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi promoting the mission of a self-reliant India, one thing is clear: the way of doing business is expected to undergo a tectonic shift post the lockdown. Like other undertakings driven by technology, agribusiness is also set to see a sea change.
The government started laying the foundation for a ‘digital’ transformation in the agri sector in 2016 when it launched the National Agriculture Market (eNAM) to promote online trading of agriculture commodities.
However, many farmers still prefer selling their produce traditionally due to direct cash-in-hand security. Clearly, it’s time to proactively change their mindset and bring them under the technological gambit.
As per a 2019 report, more than 200 million active internet users are in rural India, of which 97 percent users access the internet on mobile devices. This means with more than 14.5 crore farmers in India, there is a massive scope to tap in farmers across the nation.
I believe this is the right time to launch and promote more e-platforms to fill in the demand-supply lacuna and address some of the key problems faced by farmers.
Let’s look at how this can happen.
Better Price Realisation
First and foremost, e-platforms will change how farmers sell their produce. They will get a better price realisation for their commodities, thus creating financial stability and wealth in their hands. By trading on an e-platform, a small farmer can increase his revenue by up to 50 percent.
Also, e-platforms will save a lot of time and effort of farmers in reaching out to merchants physically. These portals will have the ability to provide wider access to different markets globally.
The supply chain link between farmers and consumers often includes multiple stakeholders and middlemen. However, with the help of e-platforms, farmers will be able to connect with buyers instantly. This will also save them a trip to the mandis as farmers can directly sell their produce to traders online who are willing to offer them the highest bid.
This means no middlemen involvement and farmers will receive instant cash transfer into their accounts. In fact, the volume of business will increase manifold as there will be greater competition.
Ease of doing business
Web portals can also offer better farm-to-market connectivity and help standardise price mechanism, provide credit facilities and promote ease of doing business. They can also streamline cold storage/warehouse facilities, offer logistics support and forge a smart supply chain.
An efficient system in place will also help analyse product demand and considerably bring down food wastage.
The other advantage web portals can offer is by registering only verified farmers and traders on their platform, thus ensuring greater transparency during every stage of the transaction.
E-platforms make it a lot easier to maintain transparency – not only from a verification standpoint but also provide essential product information in terms of price, quality, weight, delivery details, etc to the buyers. Greater transparency helps farmers to cultivate the trust of consumers, which will eventually lead to a rise in demand.
Access to real-time info
Today, agriculture has become knowledge-intensive and access to the right information at the right time will make a huge difference in the livelihood of farmers. Many e-agriculture portals can offer varied services like weather forecasts, disaster alerts, crop quality specifications, and technical inputs which can help farmers plan accordingly.
Tech disruption has touched almost every corner of the global economy, and for smallholder farmers, it offers opportunities to grow their produce, improve profit margins, and gain access to newer markets. More number of rural women will be able to jump into the digital wave from the comfort of their homes by actively participating in online trade, thus making them financially secured.
With a good delivery mechanism, online trading can revolutionise agriculture marketing system, thereby ensuring that small- and medium-sized farmers too can join the path to prosperity.
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