Village Level Entrepreneurs driving new era of agri business

With three-fourth of India's population living in rural areas, rural development has never been more connected to entrepreneurship.

Village Level Entrepreneurs driving new era of agri business
India needs 100 million new jobs by 2026 for country’s growth.
By: ABP News Bureau
Updated: 14 Jan 2019 03:55 PM
India needs 100 million new jobs by 2026 for country’s growth. Such a gigantic target cannot solely be achieved through existing jobs or business as usual, but only through creating self-employment and entrepreneurship-driven employment. With three-fourth of India's population living in rural areas, rural development has never been more connected to entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is accepted as a vital force for rural development and inclusive growth without which the other factors of development will be wasted. Rural entrepreneurship especially at the village level not only solves the problem of youth unemployment but also is a key factor curbing rural to urban migration.

Different entities support rural entrepreneurship for the different benefits they receive. The government sees village level entrepreneurship as a massive employment potential opportunity, the rural youth/farmers hope for it to be source of diversified rural livelihood while the women leverage it for economic independence with reduced need for social support.

Agriculture still contributes to 14% of India’s GDP, and continues to be the source of livelihood for 60% of the Indian households. Tapping into this humongous market seems like a huge business opportunity for many, but numerous businesses have failed due to lack of direct access to farmers and broken supply chains. Agri-entrepreneurship is increasingly gaining ground to overcome these challenges and offering sustainable and viable opportunities inrural India.

Village Level Entrepreneurs creating a rural distributed network

The farm inputs market is worth $30B but with organised retail present in only 1.5% of the total villages, the farmers lack access to quality products. On the other end, the suppliers face issues servicing the end user due to negligible last mile sales connectivity. Similarly,while rural credit is a $10B market, access to credit is a prominent challenge faced by farmers leading to dependency on exploitative middlemen and money lenders.

Creating a distributed network of village level entrepreneurs- who bridge this gap between buyers and suppliers, in each of the 6,00,000 odd villages in India is not only a sustainable but also ascalable solution to mend the ever-broken rural supply chain.

Further, thanks to the increasing buying power and emerging rural economy, both large MNCs and new startup’s want direct access to rural customers to grab a share of the rural market pie. In the past 5 years, around 700 agriculture focussed startups have been established in the country. From farm to fork or pay per use farm services, we are seeing unique models trying to attract the rural audience. The success of all such models lie in creating a local entrepreneur at the village level who acts as one stop shop servicing requirements ranging from farm inputs, machinery, farm equipment, credit and insurance.

Village Level Entrepreneurs: a critical success factor for AgTech Ecosystem

The Indian startup boom has shown remarkable growth in the recent years. India has earned one of the top three spots globally in term of number of start-ups founded. Agtech start-ups are increasingly gaining interest from both the government and the investors. As per a report by Accenture, the digital agriculture services market is set to reach $4.55B by 2020 globally. With India being home to 20% of the global smallholder farmers, it still has a huge untapped Agtech potential. Unfortunately, the economic, social and educational status of rural India offers its own hurdles in terms of information dissemination and technology adoption.

Several rural tech companies who didn’t build trust with farmers and supplement technology with human interaction have failed miserably to make a mark.

The services provided by the village level entrepreneurs go beyond the availability of products. In this new era, these local youth act as extension agents not only ensuring diffusion of knowledge, skills and best practices but also guaranteeing adoption of technology. The Village level entrepreneurs also act as local influencers creating groups of early adopters and leveraging word of mouth technique which works best in villages.

The future of India lies in its villages. Mahatma Gandhi had foreseen it decades ago. The set-up of a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in the villages creates a safehaven for the agricultural outliers to return that were forced to migrate to urban unorganised unskilled sector in search of alternative livelihood. This reverse migration is going to be advantageous for the boost of rural economy thereby ensuring inclusive growth.

By Mr. Param Preet Singh, Co-Founder, Mooofarm