Agriculture plays a vital role in the Indian economy and it is most important occupation to Indian families. The recently announced demonetization move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will affect the Indian farmers in a variety of ways. The agriculture sector will have to adjust to the pattern shift with more precision, as farmers need to buy seeds and fertilizers to save their crops from getting damaged.
Though, the government has made several announcements stating relief to farmers by allowing them to buy seeds with old Rs.500 notes. But the farmers are facing a hard time following demonetization as they generally deal in cash to purchase seeds. Many agri-commerce startups are struggling to operate in Indian markets dominated by cash transactions. Hence they are creating alternate options to survive the current financial methods such as mobile wallets, online payments and card payments.
Sateesh Nukala, CEO & Co-Founder, BigHaat, an agri-commerce startup offering best quality agro-inputs and accessories, feels that the demonetization move definitely has an impact on company revenues in the short term.
“Majority of our deliveries are on cash on delivery. Our order size is around 5000/- so we are holding the orders and informing the farmers to prepare with the cash by the time the order is delivered. Also, we are offering special discounts on paying money online. Few farmers are coming online and paying ahead to de-risk demonetization effect and benefiting from cashless transaction, which otherwise is not possible with local dealers,” he said.
Nukala also plans to supply POS machines to their offline field executives in future to encourage more use of online payment options.
"This demonetization is definitely beneficial for BigHaat since most of the local dealers deal with cash and may not be willing to come on-board with cash less transaction for various reasons. BigHaat can attract these customers coming online with online payment transactions and providing affordable pricing of agri inputs and delivering them at their doorstep,” he said.
Another agri-commerce plaform Agrihub saw decline witnessed sale decline in post demonetisation days.
"I want to make my stand very clear that this drive is for the future good of the nation and its citizens. We recently started assisted commerce for farmers where we guide them what to purchase and how to use it. After the announcement of Prime Minister, we saw a decline in the sales as this was a huge move for the nation,” said Abhishek bhatt, Co-Founder, The Agrihub.
Bhatt's startup is promoting the demonetisation move by making online payment the primary mode of transaction.
"Since the cash is wiped out from the market so it's a difficult situation for farmers but I have interacted with many of them and they say we are cooperating with each other without cash. Many farmers are providing credits from the local grocery shops for their farm labours because cash is not available. So everybody is cooperating with each other and I sensed a positive vibe for this incredible step. We don't give COD options and all our payments are bank transfer or online payments,” he added.
Patna-based startup DeHaat provides 360* services to the farmers right from crop selection till marketing,in between training of crops and field visit by experts.
Amrendra Singh, Director, Dehaat considers that both farmers, as well as business enterprise, has been affected by this move.
" Agri input and output sector has been affected a lot. The sowing session has been delayed by 20 days. Banks in rural areas still not functioning at the proper level.Also, according to our data 40% sowing is still to be done,"he said.
Singh feels the timing of demonetisation was not right for the farmers.
"We as business enterprise have been affected by the sudden dipped cash flow so both input and output market has been affected. But we will soon roll out the online payment mode for farmers,"he added.