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This Agri-tech Entrepreneur Says Indian Farmer is Not Averse to Technology 'Start-ups should remember that their customers are traditional users of technology and not old users'

By Nidhi Singh

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Farmers are, in a way, posing a considerable hurdle in the development of agri-tech industry. Their nonchalant attitude and reluctance to learn new technology is stopping the industry from achieving success.

When technology is weaved into the agriculture sector, innovations are inevitable with an assurance of bumper crop yield.

Most importantly, technology will propel the growth of agri-tech start-ups.

In a chat with the Entrepreneur India, Aditya Agarwalla, Co-founder, Kisan Network, spoke about how technology was revolutionizing the industry and the challenges it was facing in India.

Technology Adoption Will Be Slow

Agarwalla pointed out that before implementation of technology, the main thing start-ups should remember is that the customers they are dealing with are traditional users of technology and not old users.

"Many farmers are probably using mobile phones for the first time. So, the technology you are trying to build should be simple, keeping these people and the shortcomings in mind," he said.

The current way of functioning should be followed with the target of producing tangible benefits, he said.

"Incremental costs will not really pave the way for glitch-free adoption of technology. There should be a visible, tangible impact on the sector that will prompt more and more farmers to embrace advanced tools. The adaption to new technology will still be slower here than other industries, so you have to be more patient," he explained.

Agriculture Sector Is Unstructured

The sector is unstructured and that's its initial challenge and no repository of information actually exists, pointed out Agarwalla.

"So, a lot of information exists in the heads of people — be a farmer or a trader. All that should be taken into account while taking important decisions. That is not the sole stumbling block, agri-tech industry should brace for challenges galore," he added.

Reaching Out To People In Grassroots Level

"Another challenge is to involve people in the grassroots level and understand their problems really well. So, an entrepreneur must go out and invest time on target beneficiary only when he/she has a thorough idea of what you need," he added.

"Farmers Are Not Averse To Technology'

"It's not that farmers are averse to technology, but the first question they will ask is "Why would I need a smartphone?' And you should convince them by explaining the advantages of using INR 3,000 smartphone over an INR 500-1,000 phone. It's a huge jump for them and you will have to justify the extra expenditure," he added.

"Even then it's not necessary that every farmer will adopt it. Normally, it's the younger generation that embraces technology," he stressed.

Situation Promising

Agarwalla showed optimism while explaining that the scenario was positive as many people were looking forward to bring a change in the society.

"It's not one of those traditional areas where tech start-ups will work. It's very encouraging to notice that people are getting into it. Entrepreneurs need to be patient as there is no scope for overnight success in this sector. More and more people are showing interest in the sector, but, definitely, traditional financial institutions and the government should pitch in with their support," he said.
Nidhi Singh

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific

A self confessed Bollywood Lover, Travel junkie and Food Evangelist.I like travelling and I believe it is very important to take ones mind off the daily monotony .

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