Computer engineers from Pune Sanjay Borkar and Santosh Shinde started FarmERP as Farm Management Software in 2001. While several Internet companies made noise during the dot-com boom, technology was unknown in agriculture.
However, Sanjay and Santosh, who both came from farming families, believed that technology, like many other businesses, could make farming predictable and profitable.
They started creating multilingual computer-based training (CBT) kits for farmers, producer associations, NGOs, government agencies and agricultural institutes.
Farm Management Software won its first customers in 2004 while working on a project for the for Ministry of Agriculture, Maharashtra.
“In the beginning it was extremely difficult. But we managed to find some progressive farmers who agreed to try our product, which could help them manage their farms efficiently and save time, resources and money, ”says Sanjay to YourStory.
FarmERP founders Sanjay Borkar and Santosh Shinde
In 2007 the farm management software was renamed FarmERP.
The first version of the product enabled farmers to input and output data from farms, improve profitability and implement sustainable farming practices.
However, in India before Flipkart, running a tech startup was not an easy task, especially in an orthodox industry like agriculture. “Selling direct to farmers was very difficult and it was even more difficult to get money from them. So we targeted companies, and got our first chance in Oman in 2010, ”reveals the founder.
In 2011, Sanjay told YourStory: “We want FarmERP to do the [MS] Office package for farmers, and we are confident that we will get there. It’s just a matter of funding time. “
Decadal growth of FarmERP
Over the past 10 years, FarmERP’s intelligent farming systems have been rated at over 600,000 hectares of farmland in 25 countries, including India, the US and markets in Europe, Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
It served 1.3 million farmers directly or indirectly, helping them achieve greater efficiency, revenue, profitability and traceability. The size of their land holdings ranges from 10 hectares and 300 hectares. “
The FarmERP platform consists of 23 modules that services 12 industriesincluding farms and plantations, contract farmers, biotechnology companies, pack houses and exporters, greenhouses and tree nurseries, agribusiness and retailers, agricultural research and development organizations, crop insurance companies, FPOs, NGOs, government institutions and resource companies. “We have our ERP system in Agriculture and all related industries“Says the founder.
FarmERP manages 600,000 hectares of farmland in 25 countries
Without revealing the numbers, claims Sanjay FarmERPs Have income 65 percent grown since March 2020. “After the pandemic, we invested in product development and marketing. We are trying to achieve Rs 100 crore sales by 2023,” he says.
In March 2021, FarmERP took second place in the Asia Agritech Challenge organized by the Value-Chain Capacity Building Network (VCB-N). It secured a Grant of $ 2,000 for his “Uberization of Agriculture” Project focused on bringing smallholder vegetable growers in Maharashtra and buyers together on a single platform.
It covered 24 organic and conventional vegetable crops, Farmers receive end-to-end solutions, including best harvesting practices, climate-friendly advice on plant nutrition, irrigation, pest and disease control.
FarmERP is also partnered with Go4Fresh and NextAbout food for the procurement and ensuring predictability and profitability for vegetable growers in India and Southeast Asia. “Because of the short harvest time, vegetable growers need a precise execution plan that is supported by resource availability and knowledge,” says Sanjay.
From 2021, the startup also ventured into the B2C segment. (more on that later)
Building SaaS for global agriculture
The FarmERP offer essentially solves four important weaknesses: Food safety, traceability, sustainability, and Climate resilience. These are in line with two of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: zero hunger and climate change.
Its future-proof platform covers the whole Production to purchase data in the agricultural value chain. From farmer profiling and farm mapping to inventory management and quality control (cleaning, sorting, packaging) to the traceability of food and exports – the startup has one End-to-end solution for digital agriculture.
“That Man-machine-material consumption on each plot from land is recorded on FarmERP. Customers also get P&L data at the chart level, giving them insights to help them make decisions. You can prepare a harvest budget and Optimize resources like fertilizers, chemicals, machines and labor. “
He claims that FarmERP can reduce storage costs by 85 percent, labor costs by 90 percent, water costs by 95 percent, and increase operational efficiency by 25 percent.
FarmERP’s SaaS offering consists of 23 modules and serves 12 industries
The SaaS-based solution also manages and analyzes Accounts, financial data, POS documents, HR, and other Post production processes. “We even train farmers to use our solutions and feed data into the system,” says the founder.
The startup’s Indian customers include Mahindra Agri Solutions, Dharampal Satyapal Group, Coromandel Fertilisers, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Waycool, and more. FarmERP works with us worldwide Rubber, tea and oil farms in Iran, Berry plantations in France, Hydroponic setups in the USA, Orchards in Panama, agribusiness in Thailand, Turkey, Azerbaijan, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. “We plan to cover two million hectares of arable land in the next few years, ”says Sanjay.
In late 2019, FarmERP raised a $ 1.4 million Series A round from a Singapore-based strategic investor Technogen IT services.
“The company will use the funds to combine the FarmERP platform with Climate Resilient Intelligence. It will also be used to open up new markets and regions in order to solve the problems that agriculture is facing in those regions, ”Sanjay said at the time.
FarmERP has helped 1.3 million farmers directly and indirectly
Entry into B2C and future roadmap
FarmERP is looking for reinforcement Series B round in the last quarter of 2021 to get his AI-based solutions for climate risk reduction to make fresh fruit and vegetable farms (FFV) less susceptible to unpredictable weather conditions.
It has also integrated its platform with sensors, Devices for the Internet of Agricultural Things (IoAT), Drones and GIS systems, and offers a “single sign-on experience”.
“We have started offering predictive analytics (FarmGyan). We want to solve problems with AI and Computer vision for pest and disease detection and to avoid crop damage. We have already done it 87 percent accuracy for onions and tomatoes, and will extend the solution to other plants. Food safety and traceability awareness has increased threefold since the pandemic. “
Interestingly enough, FarmERP recently ventured into the B2C space due to the increasing demand.
The founder says: “Our customers wanted an e-commerce platform because they wanted to sell directly to consumers. We have fruit and vegetable growers and aggregators that our Farmizo Fresh e-commerce platform. Providers who cannot afford their own websites see us as an inexpensive way to reach consumers. “
Farmizo Khata, a smallholder farm accounting app, was launched in July
In April, FarmERP’s parent company, Shivrai Technologies, partnered with YONO from SBI start Farmizo Khata, a free farm accounting app. It is aimed at smallholder farmers who suffer large losses due to a lack of proper accounting and business transparency. Farmers can also geotag their plants in the free app.
“We plan to do this one few lakh users in a year. In the future we can also use this platform to Offer loans and insurance to the farmers, ”says Sanjay.
Why shift the focus from B2B to B2C as the latter is much more difficult?
“FarmERP is our bread and butter. We’ll expand it to newer markets. But there is none convincing solution for smallholders. Existing products are not affordable and their income depends on the market, which is very volatile. So we need holistic efforts to provide farmers with the right value for their products. It is not in the hands of an FPO, an ecosystem change is required. “
This is a smart move as the post-pandemic tailwind in agrotechnology has led to the growth of farm-to-consumer (F2C) brands.
A 2020 Accel Omnivore report said F2C brands were a 10-fold reduction in your customer acquisition costs and 3-fold volume growth since COVID-19. “As people move to online orders due to the lockdown, this could prove to be a tipping point for F2C brands as they try to disrupt traditional sales channels,” it said.
If the last decade for FarmERP was to expand its SaaS platform globally, the next decade could be to enter the Indian market with its consumer products.
Edited by Teja Lele Desai