ALAPPUZHA: Dinu Dinesh, who grows ladies’ fingers, snake guard, brinjal, long beans and green chillies on his 50-cent farm in Alappuzha’s Kanjikuzhi village, was always at a disadvantage while finding buyers. “I used to sell the produce from my plot to shops on the highway. But they buy them at a big discount. When the chilli price is `90 per kg, they buy from me at `70, sometimes at lower prices,” he says.
Things have changed for the better ever since the 30-year-old started using the app ‘aHope’, around three months ago. aHope — acronym for Aggregation of Homestead Produce and E-payment — developed by the Centre for Management Development in association with mByom, a consulting and management startup, connects homestead farmers like Dinesh to prospective buyers. “People living nearby place their orders on the app. This helps me fetch a better price, while the customers get fresh vegetables,” Dinesh points out.
Renjith Raj, an ayurveda doctor from Pattam, Thiruvananthapuram, has been using aHope to find buyers for the produce from his homestead farm of about 50 cents. Recently, he sold 10kg of tapioca through the app.“aHope is designed specifically for Kerala homestead produce and services,” says Ajit Mathai, founding partner of mByom. “It is a digital platform cooperative that allows the aggregation of small quantities of diverse produce, and addresses the challenges of working capital finance.”
The beauty of the app is that it gets small business groups to avail funding through a tie-up with Federal Bank.James E S, of Koyilandy in Kozhikode, managing director of the Perambra Coconut Producer Company uses the app to procure coconut. “It helps us procure coconut from 20,000 small farmers, those who hold 10 to 40 cents,” he says.
Vijayan Kallil, involved with the tech side of the initiative, explains that aHope seamlessly connects homestead farmers, aggregators, farmworkers, self-help groups and financial institutions to improve productivity, collaboration, market access and local economic growth. Another feature is an Uber-like facility for coconut climbing. “We have more than 200 climbers and around 500 users registered. As users increase, more climbers will be encouraged to register,” says Ajit.