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



As Agchem Complexity Grows, Specialists Take Off Some of the Heat

Chemical companies increasingly are using specialist suppliers to outsource the process development and production of complex new molecules.

Africa/Middle East

Bayer Closes Monsanto Acquisition

Bayer successfully completed the acquisition of Monsanto on Thursday. Shares in the U.S. company will no longer be traded on

Flag of China

Nearly 30,000 Companies Fined in Chinese Environmental Inspections

According to CCM, fines totaled $224.60 million. Over 18,000 individuals were fined.

day 2 trade summit

PFMAI’s Dave: Indian Bill Is ‘Total Surrender’ to Multinationals

New legislation falls short and gives unfair advantage to importers and multinationals, Indian manufacturers say.

Africa/Middle East

Bayer Plans Closing of Monsanto Acquisition on June 7

Bayer plans to complete the acquisition of Monsanto on June 7, following the receipt of all required approvals from regulatory


Two HELM Agro Herbicides Approved in California

HELMET and HELMET SPC are HELM Agro US’ newest additions to the metolachlor herbicide portfolio.


U.S. Imports of Formulated Crop Protection Products

As a barometer of global crop protection product prices and demand, U.S.-based Fanwood Chemical analyzes U.S. formulated product import data.


China Plant Shutdowns Hurt Helm Results

The company said its Crop Protection business was faced with markets exhibiting weak growth momentum overall in 2017.


Monsanto Enters Collaboration to Fight Asian Soybean Rust

2Blades will deliver resistance genes in further collaboration with The Sainsbury Laboratory and the Universidade Federal de Viçosa.


FMC Names Mark Douglas President, Chief Operating Officer

FMC Corp. announced several changes to its executive leadership, effective June 1, 2018.


China Reports Significant Resistance Issues

China's National Agricultural Technology Extension Service Center (NATESC) reported that the main pests and diseases in food crops have developed significant resistance to the most commonly used pesticides.


Bayer: Disappointing Verdict Requires In-Depth Analysis

Bayer will assess the verdict’s consequences and potential legal options.


EU Court Backs Ban on Three Neonicotinoids

General Court of the European Union said it "confirms the validity of the restrictions introduced at EU level in 2013 clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid because of the risks those substances pose to bees."


Formulation Technology Matters with High-Activity Sulfonylurea Herbicides

Herbicide formulations and sprayer clean-out are top of mind for many farmers, applicators, and retailers because of issues with dicamba


Tight Supply of Chinese Glycine Pushes Up Glyphosate Prices

China's announcement that it will conduct further pollution inspections in 2018 and 2019 is constraining the supply of glycine, the main intermediate for glyphosate production, according to market intelligence firm CCM.


Bayer Unveils Executive Leadership Team for Crop Science

Liam Condon will lead division; Brett Begemann will become Head of Commercial Operations (Chief Operating Officer).


Monsanto Execs to Step Down After Bayer Deal Closes

Monsanto Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant announced his intent to leave Monsanto at the closing of the acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer AG.


FMC Quarterly Results Soar on DuPont Acquisition

FMC Corp. reported its Agricultural Solutions business posted first-quarter 2018 revenue of $1.1 billion, an increase of 109 percent year-over-year.


Bayer Crop Science Quarterly Sales Dip

Bayer reports major progress with Monsanto acquisition.

Latest News


Valagro Launches Fertilizer Line in China

Valagro, an Italian supplier of biostimulants and other specialty nutrients, said it launched its water-soluble fertilizers, Master Supreme, to the Chinese market.


As Agchem Complexity Grows, Specialists Take Off Some of the Heat

Chemical companies increasingly are using specialist suppliers to outsource the process development and production of complex new molecules.

Precision Ag

Indigo Touts ‘New Approach to Agricultural R&D’

Indigo Research Partners uses a network of more than 50 of the largest U.S. growers to gather over a trillion data points daily from sensors, drones, weather stations, and other technologies.


Scientists Introduce Simpler, Faster CRISPR

Gene editing just got easier, thanks to an international team of researchers.


FaunaSmart, BioScience Solutions Form Innovative Collaboration in Crop Protection

FaunaSmart and BioScience Solutions have announced a cooperation within strategic business development and innovation strategies in crop protection. Harry Teicher,