Asia Editor's Choice Wealthtech

Using Fintech to Create an Inclusive Digital Ecosystem for the Farmers of India

Agriculture in India plays an important role, with 70 percent of its rural households still dependent on agriculture for livelihood, according to FAO. The nation still remains the highest in producing, consuming, and importing agricultural goods, compared to any other in the world.

The novel coronavirus was a set-back for everyone, be it retail, travel, or even airlines due to lockdown and border closures. During the beginning of the pandemic, India’s rising cases and death rates urged the governments to impose a lockdown that coincided with the farmers’ harvesting season. As soon as the lockdown was imposed, soon, the government declared agriculture as an essential sector that continued to provide supplies amidst the deadly virus. The lockdown resulted in a high drop rate in demand, leaving many farmers with high-value products no option but to use their final products as manure. The farmer population in India, known as the backbone of the country were facing significant challenges on a daily basis. The global logistics chain all around the world highlighted the need of putting newer initiatives in place within the agricultural sector of India.

BPC’s Marketplace Initiative to Improve Farmers’ Livelihood

The need of the hour was to strengthen a preexisting ecosystem that would bridge the gap between buyers and sellers, by adding value-added service providers, financial institutions, and knowledge partners. Safal Fasal, (which means ‘successful harvest’ in Hindi) founded in 2019, is a marketplace initiative by BPC and a digital platform that aims to provide high-tech access to finance, buyers, networking, and risk-management tools. The main aim behind this initiative was to provide technology for a purpose and successfully transit knowledge, by creating value. Leading Indian agritech companies, creditors and industry players have come together in partnership with BPC to provide Indian farmers with sufficient resources.

The Safal Fasal Marketplace acts as a great medium between buyers and sellers, improving their financial literacy, and lifting them within the economy. When Safal Fasal was first launched in Lucknow, it had an immediate on-boarding of 30,000 farmers, making a large societal difference in the agricultural sector. Built on BPC’s 25 years of expertise, the platform has real-time fraud management capabilities, e-commerce, QR, and mobile payment, 3D secure and biometric authentication.

During the pandemic, in May 2020, Safal Fasal provided an online marketplace to over 75,000 farmers all across the country, and also provided the required resources for their next sowing season. The ecosystem has grown to include 370,000 farmers as of August 2021 with the aim to reach 1 million by 2022. All major ecosystem players in the agriculture sector came together in order to provide a strategic roadmap to the farmers of India. Many amongst the mentioned figure were female farmers, who actively participated in the awareness programs and latest tech offerings, informing them about their social rights, increasing developing leadership skills, and increasing financial inclusion for women in the country.

Modern problems require a phy-gital solution

While building the marketplace, experts wanted to give it a more phy-gital approach; which means a top-notch digital marketplace along with on-field face-to-face meetings which would encourage greater engagement. By providing a local representative in each area, they also ensured constant dialogue and guidance on the field. As a result, the farmers were able to have greater bargaining power, letting them sell their goods for a better price.

How did BPC make it better?

Through constant support of various institutions and partners, the online marketplace brought in a transparency of transactions, enabling farmers to sell their produces at a much competitive rate, as they were more aware of their market. It also resulted in a highly efficient and successful end-to-end experience through a single platform, without being left out of the ecosystem. Currently, there are 377,412 farmers all across India through 304 FPOs, and more than $28 million USD in transactional value. This is proof that the marketplace initiative from BPC has played a major role in bridging the gap between real life and digital.

The road ahead only gets better

As a tech providing organisation, BPC aims with Safal Fasal to change the lives of farmers in the next 5 years by successfully onboarding 10 million farmers, while providing a seamless experience for them. Farmers form the backbone of the country and by various financial institutions and ecosystem players coming together, farmers can actively participate in the digital transformation of the country. In a nation where the government is trying to take active measures against poverty and illiteracy, a platform that will provide a multi-institutional and multi-channel environment while supporting farmers through the most innovative banking solutions will come as a fresh breeze of air.

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