Hyderabad: Adversity can be the biggest inspiration for most of us and it can also help one discover their true self. This is exactly what happened to Naveen Kumar, a Hyderabad-based MBA marketing graduate when he made a trip to his hometown in Warangal. He saw that a farmer had committed suicide and when he dug deep into the issue he found that spurious seeds were sold to the farmer for Rs 300 extra.
“This made me think if a farmer’s life is equal to Rs 300. That in order to make a profit of Rs 300, a dealer sold fake seeds to the farmer which in turn cost the farmer his yield and eventually his life. This incident changed my life and made me think about agriculture,” says Kumar.
With no background in agriculture, Kumar set foot into unknown territory but was adamant to find a solution for this ever-growing problem. After researching on the subject for almost four months, he realised that farmers are closely depended on third-party dealers for seeds, pesticides, fertilisers and even to sell and store their yield. Then one day he got a call from a farmer asking him about Paddy yield and after searching on Google, he realised that although there was an abundance of knowledge available through many research papers, there was no single platform that could share this knowledge with the farmers.
“That is when I decided that why we cannot develop a platform that can share the knowledge with farmers at the click of a button. That is how Napanta app came into being. In March 2017 we started this platform and by June 2017 – which is the cropping season – we were ready with the platform. And within four months over 50,000 farmers download the app,” says Kumar, who also runs another startup called ApnaLoan Bazaar – that is currently running on autopilot mode.
The agriculture crop management app currently has 1,18,200 downloads and majorly has farmers from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana registered on its platform. Incubated and supported by AIP-Icrisat and IIIT-Hyderabad, the app provides real-time information on 120 crops which includes pest and crop management, what fertilisers to use, everyday market prices, expenditure calculator, nearest dealers selling different pesticides and also cold chain operators. It also has a weather forecast, agri forum to answer questions raised by farmers, the location of soil laboratories. It works both online and offline and has information for regular, organic and natural farmers in both Telugu and English.
All the data provided in the app follows government guidelines and the market price of commodities in mandis across India is taken from agmarket.nic.in. “Napanta is the Google for marginal farmers and once they use the app they don’t need to go any other source to get information,” says Kumar.
Without divulging details on the investment, the bootstrapped company is looking to get on-board one crore farmers in seven States from 50,000 villages in India in the next two-three years. It is also in the process of developing a satellite imagery-based system wherein farmers can accurate information about their land on a real-time basis. Currently, it is making money through its e-commerce portal that sells farm equipment and daily produce of the farmers.