[Split from farmnest.com/forum/new-trends-in … rtunities/]
I am revisiting this thread almost after a year. From the comments herein, there are many valid points around addressing bottlenecks and exercising opportunities for sustainable (and more profitable) agriculture. The key ones seem to be :
Access to Capital
Commercialization, gaining economies of scale, etc
Knowledgeable and scientific cultivation
Post-harvest techniques and value addition
Marketing and proper sales channels
I would be interested in challenging our reader group to think of business models to address as many of the above, if not all. Propose this to our community. Let’s see if anyone would be interested in participating. Something along the lines of :
Access to Capital : Individual agri-investors pool in their share and buy larger undivided piece of land. Only with larger land can long term economies of scale be effectively achieved. Of course, the issue of trust and confidence will have to be addressed. Transactional transparency would be key.
Commercialization, gaining economies of scale, etc : As several have noted, the operation will have to be run as a business. Inputs will have to be optimized, skilled personnel will be hired, personal crop preferences will be trumped by optimal / profit generating cultivation. Not all land is equal and it only makes sense to grow, what grows best indigenously.
Knowledgeable and scientific : Take advantage of new technologies…once they have been proven. We would be in the business of agriculture not beta testing concepts. All standard practices like drip, soak, disease control, etc will be implemented throughout. Emerging concepts like Hydroponics are comparatively expensive, we’ll let these be commercialized by larger trade houses like Reliance, Tata, etc. We can adopt them throughout once the cost of input is no longer prohibitive. Fact remains, while these buzz-words seem very promising, this would still be a commercial activity by a small group of individual investors. Effectively, our risk appetite should not outstrip our ability to withstand a poor crop harvest and minimal returns.
Post-harvest techniques and value addition : Information for optimal post harvest process is available for almost all staple crops in India. Problem usually arise dues to lack of information and poor network. KVKs offer steady stream of courses all over the nation. Produce is often bought by ‘wholesalers’ at a pittance only to be marginal processed (value addition) and then marketed with a hefty margin. This applies almost across the board with most crops. As educated and aware agri-prenuers, we would implement as many basic post harvesting value additions like packing, sorting, grading, use of cold storage, etc.
Marketing and proper sales channels : Sky is the limit here…but it would need ambition and effort. Our nation is now much better equipped with road network, rail routes, etc. Cost can be prohibitive if scale is not optimized. That is another reason for larger holdings instead of 5-10 acres (about how much most of us can personally afford / invest). Urban, regional and national produce processors and retailers (Nestle, FoodWorld, etc) need volume and will only engage in a dialog if we can deliver those. It is not rocket science that direct to consumer / retailer is where the REAL money is.
With all said above, this is food for thought. This is probably too much for any one or small group of techie agri-prenuers to handle part time anyways. With that said, each of these categories are ready to be exploited. If any of us are ready to begin serious research and get ready to implement this on the ground, I would be happy to be part of this group to better shape up this concept.