"An FPO with proper governance & entrepreneurial culture can create win-win situation for farmers," Debarshi Dutta

Debarshi Dutta, Founder & CEO, Ayekart
Debarshi Dutta, Founder & CEO, Ayekart

Ayekart is India's first integrated digital platform strengthening traditional businesses and agricultural value chain with finance, technology, and service. At Ayekart, our primary objective is to “Empower traditional businesses and farmer’s community of India”.  Ayekart is directly and indirectly associated with more than 22,000 farmers by supporting 31 FPOs. In fact, about 90 percent of the organization’s GMV is attributed to the agri-business.  

From the perspective of Agribusiness, Ayekart focuses on the three key areas i.e., enabling credit, if required, creating market linkages for output and VAS viz., market linkages for input requirements, etc., that are essential to make agriculture a successful business. Ayekart platform is crucial in extending these market linkages, catering to the financial requirements, and providing technology services.

Krishi Jgarn interviewed Dutta to know more about how Ayekart is empowering farmers and helping them achieve doubling farmers' income. 

Doubling farmer’s income is the talk of the town right now. Can you tell us how Ayekart is approaching the idea?

Ayekart’s efforts are definitely contributing towards the incremental farm income for all the farmers associated with us directly or indirectly as we are working with farmer collectives in the form of FPOs/FPCs which creates an economy of scale. In addition, having multiple buyer options for their produce, which Ayekart provides through its vast network in about 12 states, enables them to negotiate prices and sell at the best available offer. Better price realization and reduced cost of cultivation are two crucial components that increase the profits in the farm business.

For farmers to get high returns on their farm investment, Ayekart is also amid the deliberation with certain FPOs to venture into high-value crops with the assured markets. We are also in the process of introducing and utilizing technology interventions to enhance agricultural production quality for the member farmers of the FPOs associated with Ayekart.

What do you mean by the holistic development of farmers? How can you ensure farmers’ holistic approach development from pre-production to the sale of produce?

Holistic development is a much wider term that can have numerous connotations depending on perspective. However, when we talk about the holistic approach to farming, it includes several aspects starting from pre-production to after-product sales such as inputs knowledge, input availability, efficient use of inputs, cropping patterns, optimized water usage, the right technology, precise usage of fertilizers, pesticides, etc., local value addition, storage, and warehousing, and finally marketing.

When we analyze closely, three components i.e., technology, finance, and marketing, if used properly may address all these aspects and make farming a profitable business. At Ayekart, these three components are at the core of the services we offer through our integrated platform. As I have mentioned earlier that Ayekart engages with the FPOs right from the input purchase to the product sales; we touch each node of the supply chain for FPOs and beyond.


What has your experience been working with FPOs?

From our association with the FPOs, we have derived that they definitely have the potential to become a game changer in the agricultural marketing ecosystem. An FPO with proper governance and entrepreneurial culture can create a win-win situation for its member farmers. We have first-handedly experienced the power of collective they leverage for their benefit, be it procuring inputs and farm machinery for their member farmers or negotiating the prices with the potential buyers.

But the most important thing that we understood for FPOs to thrive is, to build a supportive and effective ecosystem via bringing different players together and extending the opportunities like productive partnerships, co-branding, joint marketing, direct sourcing from farmers, collection centers for aggregation, accredited storage facilities with warehouse receipts system, affordable finance for working capital and many more.  Rather than expecting FPOs to succeed as stand-alone companies developing a business ecosystem may bring more returns.

Does Ayekart have any success stories with FPOs attached to it? If so, could you tell us more about it?

We indeed have some success stories that we would really like to share. One of the Ayekart-supported FPOs based in rural Pune in Maharashtra is engaged in organic farming for vegetable cultivation. Ayekart platform enabled them for timely procurement of drip irrigation system for member farmers to be installed in 60 acreages of land, along with other inputs. For marketing, the organization is linked to a vegetable processor, HORECA segment buyers, and retail markets. There are many such initiatives that can be highlighted wherein FPO’s needs and challenges are addressed by Ayekart’s support.

Several businesses are doing what Ayekart does. How are you staying ahead of the game in the race?

Ayekart is the first integrated digital platform that addresses the needs and challenges of the end-to-end food and agricultural value chain. We work with FPOs/ FPCs/ Small Aggregators/ Millers/ Processors/ Distributors etc. Our approach to addressing the market is our biggest differentiator. Our motto is “Innovate and Collaborate” with traditional business rather than “Innovate and Disrupt”. Our customers view us as partners in their growth rather than future competitors. This is what is keeping us ahead of the curve.

Ayekart has three different apps on Google Store. Can you brief us about them?

Sure, today everyone is speaking about “Super Apps”. Ayekart’s approach is an integrated digital platform, Ayekart predominantly offers three web-based applications namely ‘Ayekart Business’ which is a B2B solution; the second one in ‘Ayekart Hisaab’, which particularly helps in streamlining the business operations and management of retailers; and the third one is ‘Ayekart Consumer’, a B2C solution, which aids small business to reach out in hyper-local markets as well as pan India.

Through these traditional businesses, farmer collectives like FPOs, FPCs, and other small businesses can take their businesses into the digital arena. With the tailored services, easily accessible resources and the simplified network, the platform equip these small businesses to be at par with the new-age businesses and e-retailers.

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