An exclusive interview with Amit Sinha, co-founder of Unnati
Nov. 20, 2020
Unnati, an Agritech space supporting farmers to improve productivity which aims to help farmers throughout the farming lifecycle such as working capital, seed buying and guidance, buying nutrients and pesticides, harvest and selling the crops.
What is the success story of Unnati as a brand and from a farmer’s perspective? How has Unnati turned farmers into entrepreneurs?
Having conceptualized the idea in 2017, Unnati is still at a nascent stage. We are working towards achieving our ultimate goal and success. This success depends on the trust that farmers place in Unnati as their trusted farming partner. Farmers registered on Unnati can avail a plethora of benefits including quality inputs on a variety of aspects such as seeds, soil quality, yield, etc., financing options, direct market access, and the ability to sell their output at better prices than the available market price, and so on.
Unnati provides digital tools to farmers along with our wide array of services which will help them continue their farming business in a more structured and profitable manner. Using the digital platform, we offer several services that were previously unavailable to small and medium farmers. Unnati empowers the farmers to do farming and sell their output on their own terms, thereby improving their quality of life and increasing their income.
How Unnati raised pre-series A round (USD 1.7 MM i.e. 12 crores) from NABVENTURES Fund (NABARD)?
We have found an excellent partner in NAB Ventures. They understand the nuances of the agriculture industry and we are honoured to have them repose their trust in our business model and execution capabilities.
Do you think mechanization in agriculture has enhanced farm productivity and how?
We do not provide mechanization services, so this isn’t relevant to our business model.
How COVID-19 impacted farming has and what scope do you see in the post-COVID era in farming and Agristartups?
COVID-19 has profoundly impacted the farming sector just as it has affected other businesses. The prolonged lockdowns and multiple restrictions levied on movement adversely impacted farm output. However, the agriculture industry has emerged stronger and quicker out of the pandemic-induced predicaments as compared to other sectors. Multiple initiatives and continued efforts at every level from the government and private sector to complete the farming ecosystem and improve the living conditions of farmers have paid off. We are now seeing that the agriculture sector is getting back on its feet and will return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming months.
What do you think about government initiatives in this direction? How the policies can be more helpful for farmers? Does New Farm Laws 2020 will be helpful if so, then how?
It is a known fact that India is an agrarian economy and around 70 per cent of our country’s rural population is employed in the agricultural sector. The government has certainly ensured that farmers receive their dues and can build a better quality of life. The recently imposed Farm Bills will certainly bring about structural changes in the Agri value chain. It will democratize access to services and availability and will give farmers the upper hand in making decisions on selling their produce.
The Bills also eliminate intermediaries and reduce the marketing and transportation cost that will greatly help small farmers get better prices for their produce. Farmers can still choose to go to AMPC mandis if they wish to explore opportunities in traditional markets. So, with the recent laws and initiatives taken by the government, the ball is in the farmers’ court and this will increase their income and make for seamless processes for them to grow and sell their produce.
How Unnati is helping in FPOs apart from Agristartups?
Unnati is working on digitizing FPOs through its technology-enabled platform and is also helping FPOs engage in a better way with its community of farmers. It provides extensive inputs, working capital loans, and banking services to its wide network of farmers. Unnati is assisting farmers across the country in managing their agribusiness easily and efficiently through its end-to-end services and digital platform.
What are your future plans? Anything else you would like to share with us?
Our growth trajectory has been impressive over the past 3 years. We have empowered 2.5 Lac farmers and made them farmpreneurs with our tech-driven services. Soon, we plan to expand our footprint to all the major Agri zones in our country and focus on target crops. We are aiming to bring in 5 million farmers to the digital world in the coming years and help them improve their net income sustainably by offering them affordable options and helping them earn more from their outputs.
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