Agriculture till date is the backbone of the rural economy and holds a great share when it comes to the overall economy of the country. A large portion of the population is attached to agriculture. However, with ever increasing globalization, farming is facing a few major challenges. Loss in profit is a major amongst others where the profit share of the farmers in the value chain is getting lost in the hands of the middlemen. To solve this problem and its further consequences, Connect Farmer has brought an innovative way to build a direct relationship between the farmers and the consumers. It doesn’t allow any room for the middlemen. And not only farmers, but also small-big cottage industries are finding a new way to communicate with the consumers. Startoholics got a chance to have a talk with the founder of this enterprise, Shrikrishna Hegde Ullane to know more about it:
To anyone who’s never come across Connect Farmer, how would you describe it?
It is a Social Enterprise. It’s a type of 365 day online Exhibition / Agri Fair where Farmers meet consumers. This enterprise works as a link between farmers and consumers. Farmers and small-scale cottage industries can find the market with the help of this new means of communication. And we also encourage Farm Tourism.
Tell us a bit about your background and how it all started – where did your vision for Connect Farmer come from?
I’m from a reputed Agriculture family called “Ullane” of Bidrakan village. Until the completion of High School, I studied in my village only in Kannada medium. Now I’m doing my higher education in Commerce and studying Social Entrepreneurship Diploma from Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad in distance education mode.Regarding work experience, I worked for 3.5 Years during my Internship period which was a part of my commerce education (during that period I travelled to many places of the state).
How can Connect Farmer help farmers in the long run?
Kokum looks like mangosteen fruit and is mainly found in the Western Ghat and Konkan area. It is not found in many other places in the world and it is a rare fruit. Kokum fruit is having huge scope for value addition and has many usages like it is used for soft drink preparation and is used as an ingredient in many traditional dishes. It is also a very useful medicine for acidity and obesity.
Butter extracted from seeds of this fruit is the only butter, which remains in “solid state” in room temperature. This butter is a very good medicine for dry skin disease and can even be used for making Candles. However, unfortunately not even 10-20% of naturally grown fruit is harvested by farmers.
Being a commerce student I always felt that Kokum is a great crop, but it’s sad that none of our farmers grow it. Without the proper utilization of the naturally grown fruits, these go wasted. Farmers are not using this golden opportunity to generate income.
When I started doing research in this area, I found that there are a few farmers producing value added products like Kokum Syrup, Kokum dry rind, Kokum Butter, Kokum Jam but all of them are facing marketing problems.
I explained the story of kokum because although this crop has huge potentials, no farmer is getting benefits out of it. APMC or RMC, none is providing marketing facility. If this is the case with Kokum then think about all other products.
The basic problem with such products is that the farmers never tried to introduce them to the outer world. There is no proper platform for them to exhibit such products.
Through Connect Farmer, farmers, small & cottage industries can publish the details of their products with photos so that the prospective customers can get the details of products and its specialty and availability.
Generally we notice two points in agriculture marketing
- Though the customer is interested in purchasing a farm product, from farmers, cottage industry, small scale industries, and rural entrepreneurs he does not have proper information of the producers. Here you get detailed information which you’re searching for.
- On the other hand, farmers and cottage industries are suffering to find proper customers for their products.
To resolve both of these issues, people can easily connect with each other with the help of connectfarmer.com
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
The trend is not in favour of entrepreneurship. Everyone is forced to go for a safer Job. Convincing is a big issue here and also getting a good team seems to be a big task.
What is one mistake you have made and what did you learn from it?
Regarding mistake, there are many. However, the ultimate lesson is not to repeat them.
Has Connect Farmer got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
Yes. Huge response is coming.
How have you sustained your business? What are the revenue streams you rely on?
Nominal amount of Registration fees is charged from the farmers.
What keeps you motivated during difficult times?
“Keeda of Entrepreneurship” 😀
Agriculture is one of the pillars of Indian economy. The present scenario is such where the farmers are getting cornered because of the middlemen. To resolve an issue like this, Connect Farmer is indeed an extraordinarily innovative initiative. It is very much novice in this field, but if the dedication and the aim are maintained, it is needless to say that this enterprise has a really long way to go!