Manjunath is a contented farmer today after his tie-up with Farmizen, a start-up based in Bengaluru that takes care of distribution, marketing, inputs and also provides farming know-how. He says, “My biggest challenge was getting the right price for the produce and marketing it. But with Farmizen, I have never faced an issue.”
Three friends - Shameek Chakravarty, Gitanjali Rajamani and Sudaakeran Balasubramanian - got together with a two-fold goal to provide access to fresh, chemical-free produce by introducing urbanites to a farming experience, and to help improve livelihoods of local farmers.
Set up in January 2017, till date, 1,500 families have rented such farms in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Surat. People pay a monthly fee of Rs 2500 for a 600 sq ft plot, and farmers take care of the crops. Further, Farmizen connects both the farmer and consumer on one platform through their app. The farmer takes care of all the crops chosen by the user who can visit the farm anytime.
Shameek says, “Dwindling incomes along with production, distribution and financing inefficiencies have made it impossible for farmers to earn a living. So they are resorting to using more and more chemicals.”
Farmizen’s business model is focused on enhancing farmer’s income by removing intermediaries so that a large part of what consumers pay reaches farmers. All the three entrepreneurs bring together a combined experience of 12-15 years in the field of corporate management, marketing, building products and businesses and computer engineering. Further, they stress chemical-free production and say the agro inputs provided to farmers are to ensure no chemicals are used in growing crops.
Gitanjali says, “It’s no surprise farmers go overboard with fertilisers. They over-use pesticides, inject steroids and bleach cauliflowers. These chemicals have a definitive impact on our health.”
To gain the trust of customers, Farmizen has a model where customers can choose what they want to grow and get updates of exactly what has been put into the soil or sprayed on the plants.
Sudaakeran adds, “We have about 1,500 families as subscribers across four states and are planning to expand to serve one lakh families in the next two years.” At present, they have a 50-50 revenue share model with the farmers. They have also started ‘Social fruit shopping’ - a new way for consumers to form a team, collaborate and buy farm fresh fruits from across India.