24 Nov LEAF ties up with techfirm to connect with farmers in remote areas
Integrated agriculture services company LEAF (Lawrencedale Agro Processing India) is striving to disrupt the agriculture financial sector in India beyond lending. The platform — a common digital infrastructure — will connect farmers with buyers, inputs suppliers, banks and financial institutions and FPOs.
LEAF founder and CEO Palat Vijayraghavan told BusinessLine that the company has tiedup with a technology provider in the US to bring about a paradigm shift in the way marginalised farmers in remote parts of the country experience financial services.
“The Indian agriculture sector has been attracting lots of attention from multiple stakeholders, but the ease of financial services to marginalised farmers is still a distant dream”.
“Take for instance the tribal farmers in remote Arakku valley in the Eastern Ghats or deep in the Western Ghats. They grow high-value crops such as turmeric and exotic produce and face huge hurdles in selling and realising reasonable rates; they either have no access to banking services or have to commute a long distance to avail the service.
“The digital platform which we propose to enable would help such farmers avail services beyond simple credit products.
“With our active on-ground Farmer Support Centres (FSC), farmers can grow the produce, sell the harvest through our centres, realise the value and access the fruits of their harvest through technology solutions.
“We will onboard the farmers and provide them with a card (on the likes of a debit card linked to their bank account). This card would help provide easy liquidity through cash-in/cash-out at Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) offices and at local kirana stores and Panchayat offices. Thus, access to money would be simplified. The farmer can use the card to buy his daily requirements, farm inputs, recharge mobile, remit cash, and pay insurance and so on without having to search for an ATM in the vicinity,” Vijayaraghavan explained, adding that “value-added services such as crop advisory, logistics and mechanisation extensions would be offered through the platform”.
Around 500 farmers (in Ooty region and Arakku valley) have been hand-picked by the company for the trial phase.
This offering (product) is to be formally rolled out by mid-January, the LEAF CEO said.
The company is looking to strengthen the FSC network from 5 (at present) to 20 in three years and deepen the engagement with various stakeholders to positively impact three million farmers over the next few years.