Published: 08th July 2018
'Our Food' makes the life of farmers easier by offering processing units and storage facilities
A team of 15 is constantly working along with farmer of Telangana. Soon they plan to expand to other states as well
With one of the very first insights he offered, Bala Reddy V established the premise of our conversation, which is also the reason he started Our Food. "Today, every Indian agritech company is focused on increasing the farmer’s produce," he points out. In fact, an increase in the production of one particular commodity drives its prices down and in the end, the farmers get a price much less than what they deserve. So Reddy, who himself comes from a family of farmers, decided to focus on two aspects of agriculture — processing and storage. Our Food has set up 20 processing centres in partnership with farmers across the state of Telangana. "Think of it as a farmer franchise model," he tells us. Raghu Prasad M from NIT Warangal is the COO, while Sashikanth from IIT Bombay is the Head of Infrastructure and Logistics at Our Food.
Reddy studied in NIT Warangal and then joined Cognizant, which he eventually quit. He later pursued a course in Agribusiness Management from IIM Ahmedabad
For a processing unit that requires an investment of five lakh rupees, farmers invest about one lakh and the rest is arranged via a loan that Our Food helps procure. They also help procure the equipment and thus, "a farmer can sell the finished product to direct buyers like hotels, hostels and more, taking out the middleman and increasing their own income," explains Reddy, who hails from Atmakur, a town that's about 150 km from Hyderabad. The farmer can also store their produce in this 750-acre facility. The primary processing of dals, groundnuts and millets, husk removal, processing of paddy to rice, and red chillies and Curcuma longa to red chilli and turmeric powder respectively are carried out in these kinds of units.
Hand in hand: One of the facilities set up in collaboration with farmers by Our Food
An assumption with which Reddy had begun Our Food was that mills are available in nearby towns. And to his surprise, they are in fact available, concentrated in certain pockets. "For example, most of the processing of red gram happens in Tandur, so all the red gram is taken there, processed and then sent elsewhere," he explains. So they started their first Agri-Business Centre on a one-acre land in Zaheerabad. They demonstrated the usage of the mill to farmers who took to it well. "The response has been so good that farmers from Karnataka and Maharashtra have visited the facility too," he informs us.
They have recently signed an MoU with Nagarjuna Fertilizers and Chemicals and will start processing centres for farmers who use their new and innovative products like Pro Rice
Now, Our Food wants to deliver other agriculture products like seeds, pesticides and fertilisers. They also want to start their own brand where they offer products like ginger garlic paste and mango pulp. "One of the biggest challenges that farmers face is that they are not able to gauge market trends," says Reddy. As an example, he explains how when one farmer made a lot of money by growing dragon fruit, but when many others followed the same route, the price dropped from `150 to `30. "They need to be educated about refraining from growing crops blindly, as per the demand," he says. Reddy hopes that upcoming agritech start-ups will focus on assessing the demand and accordingly advice farmers to grow a particular commodity and also help replace conventional fertilisers with innovative ones.
For more on them, click on ourfood.net.in