How AgroStar Is Leading the Way to Simplify India’s Distribution

The Sheth brothers founded AgroStar in 2012.

India has some 120 million growers and a predominantly generic agrichemical market. A strong and efficient distribution network is essential for crop protection.

Yet, the country’s industry has been plagued by problems arising out of supply chain inefficiencies, a lack of transparency, spurious products, and inadequate infrastructure, which result in post-harvest losses estimated at INR 45,000 crore ($7 billion) every year, according to a Tata Strategic Management Group/FICCI report.

This also makes it difficult for agrichemical companies to reach the farmers to promote their products and educate them about their usage and benefits. Indian farmers deal with layers upon layers of agents, dealers, and distributors to get to the farm inputs they want to buy.

Enter a Rising Start-Up Called AgroStar

The Pune-headquartered firm, founded in 2012, skips all the layers and goes straight to the farmer via their cellphone.

As the motto splashed on its homepage goes: “Our mission is to simplify the agribusiness experience for farmers in rural India.”

The Accel-backed start-up raised $10 million in Series B funding earlier in 2017 and currently operates in the three states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan with a staff of over 200 people.

Commenting on the investment, Prashanth Prakash, Partner, Accel India, said: “There is a huge scope to implement technology to solve the inherent problems faced by farmers in India. In a mobile first country like India, AgroStar has clearly demonstrated that farmers in India are ready to adapt the latest in technology that can make their lives simpler and improve their productivity.”

Co-founder and CEO Shardul Sheth and co-founder and Director Sitanshu Sheth break down the process:

  • A farmer expresses his interest to transact with AgroStar either through a missed call on a toll-free number or through the company’s Android app.
  • AgroStar’s intelligent, predictive dialer connects qualified customer relations executive with the farmer. The executive understands his query and provides him with personalized agronomy and product solutions based on his crop cycle and places an order on behalf of the customer with the aid of a smart CRM.
  • The products are dispatched from the central warehouse through one of the delivery channels viz. India Post, local entrepreneurial logistics partners or through field sales executives and are delivered at farmer’s doorstep.

The focus is on four consumer-centric pillars: genuine and quality products, fair pricing, advisory solutions, and quality service, say the Sheth brothers, and the model is catching on: “Farmer interest has been growing multi-factor every year. The business has been growing 2x to 2.5x in the last three years through continuous innovations in farmer engagement, product range, and last-mile delivery. More than 1.4 million farmers have been serviced with over 4 lakh farmers transacting on platform,” they tell AgriBusiness Global.

The key challenges, the Sheths say, include convincing less literate farmers to trust an alternate channel of commerce and ensuring timely last-mile delivery. The current platform, too, is not yet perfected. Delivery speed can still be improved, and logistics challenges still stand in the way of speedy deliveries of bulk products, according to the Sheths.

Precision ag plays no small part in the founders’ vision.

“AgroStar has also been at the forefront in acquiring a huge amount of data pertaining to millions of calls, lakhs of farmers and transactions, and thousands of products across the geographies. The farmer-specific data is used to provide more customized services, loyalty programs and recommend more relevant products. The operational data is used for building efficiency in the system.

“While the intent to be able to provide site-specific crop management services is very much there, and steps toward crop image-based recommendations are being taken, the challenges the Indian landscape provides with regard to small and fragmented holdings still makes it a difficult proposition to have precision agriculture done at scale,” the Sheths point out.

The company aims to spread throughout India within the next two years. Partners include more than 160 brands, including multinationals such as Monsanto, Dow, and BASF to provide raw materials, seeds, fertilizers, and other inputs.

“There is a continuous effort to on-board more relevant brands and expand the portfolio to cover more crops and agri-products across the states,” the Sheths say.

 

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Agrichemicals

Agrichemicals

Syngenta Herbicide Cleared for Use with Dicamba Technologies

Fusilade DX herbicide has been cleared for tank mixing with both XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology and Engenia herbicides.

Vineyard-grapes
Agrichemicals

Introducing Biostimulant CommerceCon

The $1.8 billion biostimulant market is expected to reach $2.9 billion by 2021. It’s little wonder why both traditional agchem

Agrichemicals

Talking Dicamba: Q&A with Heartland Co-Op’s Dave Coppess

Dave Coppess, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, Iowa, chats about the company’s experience with dicamba-resistant cropping systems.

Adjuvants

Wilbur-Ellis Launches Diligence-EA

Wilbur-Ellis Co. announced the release of DILIGENCE-EA, a new deposition and drift reduction product powered by ACCUSTRIKE technology.

Agrichemicals

U.S. Approves Bayer-Monsanto Merger – WSJ

The U.S. Justice Department has approved Bayer AG’s acquisition of Monsanto Co. after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets to secure government antitrust approval.

Monsanto
Agrichemicals

Lower U.S. Corn Plantings, Prices in Brazil Impact Monsanto Results

Monsanto reports improved glyphosate pricing in the second quarter.

Agrichemicals

BASF Launches Spray Tool for Engenia

BASF on Wednesday launched its Engenia Herbicide Spray Tool to help growers make on-target applications.

Rice Closeup
Agrichemicals

Arysta Licenses Meiji’s Insecticide for Rice in India

Flupyrimin is a new proprietary active ingredient that provides effective control of damaging pests in rice and other important crops.

Agrichemicals

A Responsible Approach to Highly Hazardous Pesticides

"Our goal is now to encourage all stakeholders, including generic companies and governments in low income countries, to engage in a positive dialogue around pesticide use to ensure the sound management of highly hazardous pesticides globally."

Agrichemicals

ADAMA Reports Strong Sales; Sees Higher Costs

Adama: Procurement costs in the second half of 2017 were higher in comparison to 2016, which is expected to impact production costs going forward.

Agrichemicals

China’s Herbicide Formulation Export Values Rose 35% in 2017

The top 3 importing nations were Australia, Thailand and Nigeria.

Agrichemicals

Mitsui Merges European Crop Protection Subsidiaries

Certis Europe BV and Spiess-Urania Chemicals GmbH, two European crop protection subsidiaries of Mitsui & Co., Ltd., have announced their

Agrichemicals

Bayer: Enzymes in Honeybees Determine Neonic Sensitivity

A joint study by Exeter University, Rothamsted Research and Bayer has discovered enzymes in honey bees and bumble bees that determine how sensitive they are to different neonicotinoid insecticides.

Agrichemicals

Nichino America Launches Novel Fungicide

Flutianil, the active ingredient in Gatten, has specific activity against the fungal diseases that cause powdery mildew.

Nufarm-Photo-credit-Luis-Ascui
Agrichemicals

Nufarm Revenue Rises on North America Strength

The company is forecasting earnings growth for the full year.

Agrichemicals

Where Is Chinese Agchem Manufacturing Headed and How Should You Manage the Risks?

Exclusive insight from CS Liew, Managing Director of Pacific Agriscience Pte Ltd., Singapore

Agrichemicals

Crop Protection Product Resources to Help You Source Effectively

South Africa is days away from running out of water. Climate change is forcing growers to change the crops they

Agrichemicals

Kansas State Researchers Make Key Glyphosate Resistance Discovery

Kansas State University researchers have discovered how weeds develop resistance to the popular herbicide glyphosate, a finding that could have broad future implications in agriculture and many other industries.

Agrichemicals

Australian Authority to Greenlight Syngenta Fungicide

ChemChina reported that the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) will approve the registration of Syngenta’s foliage fungicide MIRAVIS in April 2018.

Latest News

Europe

Spain, Italy: Tracking the EU Powers in Crop Protection

Three months into 2018, many of results of the Kleffmann end-user panels for 2017 are finalized. They confirm our view

Americas

U.S. Farm Bill Draft Defines Plant Biostimulants for First Time

Definition is a critical step in the legislative process to support the development of new sustainable technologies for agriculture and U.S. farmers.

Markets

Bayer Gains Russian Approval for Monsanto Deal

Bayer AG said Friday that Russian antitrust authorities have approved its proposed $57 billion acquisition of Monsanto Co. on the

Asia

Indian IoT Platform for Pre and Post Harvest Raises Seed Round

Indian startup AgNext has raised an undisclosed seed round led by India-focused Agtech VC Omnivore Partners along with Singaporean angel

Industry News

Verdesian Launches Renewed Focus on Grower Nutrient Use Efficiency

Verdesian Life Sciences has announced a reformulation of its mission, positioning statement and approach in order to create a more