The app, in its journey so far, has built a network of more than 80 lakh farmers, who are using it to garner information related to best farming practices or browse through the in-built marketplace to buy agrarian products Farming is one of the oldest known human professions. But India’s agriculture ecosystem remains mired in many challenges for farmers such as information asymmetry, lack of awareness about sustainable farming techniques, limited options and avenues to buy agrarian products, and poor market linkages for crops and dairy products. The knowledge connect for the individual farmer also continues to come through geographically localized neighbours and friends and a few other smaller cohorts. But farmers now have a dedicated network – Krishify – which connects them with agri-professionals and stakeholders through an app whereby they can network and engage in economic transactions. Krishify was built to address the glaring issues so that farmers can seek the right information on best practices associated with farming, and consequently increase their income level. Krishify, the Gurugram-based and India's first farmer-centric networking platform for agri-professionals, was founded in 2019 by three IIT graduates Rajesh Ranjan leading as CEO, Manish Agrawal, now the CTO, and Avinash Kumar as COO; all of whom have played a substantial role in building the online community of farmers and subsequent marketplace integration. Krishify now has a network of over 7 million farmers in Hindi-speaking India, primarily Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar. Empowering farmers The idea of creating a farmer-centric networking platform for the agriculture sector came when the founders realized that technology could effectively be used to empower farmers and better drive productivity in the agritech ecosystem. Existing market participants were either addressing supply chain or input-side concerns. Krishify examined the issue from the perspective of a farmer's life cycle and his inherent need to interact with a variety of stakeholders based on various requirements. Since the digital penetration in rural India has also been steadily increasing, Krishify leveraged it to create an online community of farmers who can seamlessly connect with each other to share knowledge and queries with each other. “On top of this, we also built a digital marketplace whereby farmers can buy agrarian products, cattle, tractors, or sell their produce to businesses,” the co-founders said. “We are happy to see the impact that Krishify app has made in the lives of Indian farmers. Already, more than 80 lakh farmers are using the app to garner information related to best farming practices or browse through the in-built marketplace to buy agrarian products,” says CEO Rajesh Ranjan, who himself comes from an agricultural background and has first-hand experience of the issues faced by the farmers and the gaps between each level of the agri-chain. The founding team continues to spend time in rural regions to learn about the problems that farmers face and how technology can be leveraged to drive efficiency. “With our app, we have directly connected farmers with businesses that has reduced the dependency on middlemen who used to exploit farmers earlier by nudging them to sell their produce at throwaway prices. Now farmers enjoy a level playing field to negotiate and get better deals for their produce or buy equipments, machinery, seeds, drones, fertilizers, etc,” elaborates Rajesh. “With our app, we have directly connected farmers with businesses that has reduced the dependency on middlemen who used to exploit farmers earlier by nudging them to sell their produce at throwaway prices” - Rajesh Ranjan, CEO, Krishify Pushing the physical boundaries The key highlight of the Krishify app by users is that it helps farmers forge connections across geographies, share learnings and problems, exchange information, as well as engage in social commerce. The app has pushed the physical boundaries of a farmer’s reach far and wide, quite literally. It connects potential buyers and sellers, making transactions smooth. The network is built around information exchange and the transactional needs of the farmers which gives it a unique positioning. They do not need to go to different platforms for each requirement. The app helps resolve traditional issues for farmers through its content-centric, information-rich and trusted digital network where farmers are at the center and can connect with other stakeholders such as fellow farmers, agri-scientists, experts, agribusinesses etc. Using AI algorithms and user profiling, the app provides a high level of user personalization. Farmers use the app to connect with their communities to find essential information on farming techniques, market rates, government benefits and subsidies, and other topics. Retailers, distributors, cattle traders, and mandi traders are among the other agri-stakeholders who use it. Using AI and ML “Our unique selling proposition is the technology and data that we have harnessed to empower farmers. The in-house technology that we use on the Krishify app is powered by AI and ML-driven technology to enable social commerce in rural India - both peer-to-peer and business-to-peer models. This provides farmers with a personalized user experience to resolve individual farming challenges and queries posed by them. For instance, the app can help to resolve issues pertaining to pest attacks, provide farmers with weather updates, and real-time mandi rates in their localized geographies,” says CTO Manish Agrawal. “The in-house technology that we use on the Krishify app is powered by AI and ML-driven technology to enable social commerce in rural India - both peer-to-peer and business-to-peer models” - Manish Agrawal, CTO, Krishify Considering the limited extent of the internet bandwidth in rural India, initially, it was an uphill task to nudge farmers to adopt a digital route. However, the company deployed several behavioural science tactics to acquire users and push them into the habit-forming stage. The app gained popularity during the COVID-19 lockdowns, earning the moniker, ‘Facebook for Farmers.’ When supply chains broke and movements became restricted, farmers themselves veered towards exploring virtual and digital alternatives to communicate, buy & sell. “Information and content are the hooks that we use to gather the interest of farmers on our app, in fact, Krishi TV, which is quite like Instagram Reels, is where farmers upload videos related to their best practices, sharing knowledge with other farmers across geographies. This has also helped to create a segment of agri-influencers with a follower base to the tune of thousands of users. On top of all this lies the online community of farmers that we have created, giving them a sense of communion to connect with fellow farmers,” says Manish. Digitizing agriculture Rajesh says the larger idea is to digitize Indian agriculture, and “this is where the importance of our first-party data comes, which informs us about the interests and behavioural attributes of farmers.” “This data is very valuable for not only us but also corporates, government, and financial institutions who wish to raise awareness related to the latest technology solutions or get closer to farmers to advertise their products. For farmers, it has opened a new window to access more options instead of relying on a few traditional brick-and-mortar stores to buy agriproducts,” he adds. With such a prized product in farmers’ lives, the situation of agriculture in India is bound to improve, giving farmers an equal footing to negotiate with businesses and brands.