In Conversation with Founder & Director of Dvara E-Registry

Sanjay Mansabdar, Founder and Director of Dvara E-Registry.
Sanjay Mansabdar, Founder and Director of Dvara E-Registry.

Dvara E-Registry is a portfolio company of Dvara Holdings (formerly Dvara Trust) and part of the Dvara Venture Studio cohort that supports entrepreneurs working towards large-scale systemic change in financial inclusion.

In order to get more insights into the functioning of Dvara E-Registry, Krishi Jagran interacted with Sanjay Mansabdar, who is the Founder and Director of Dvara E-Registry.

1. Tell us about your journey so far.

With Dvara E-Registry, technology and finance come together to bring about financial inclusion and empowerment to primarily the most vulnerable demographic of the Indian Economy – the smallholder farmer, while simultaneously integrating the entire Agri value chain. This enables better agricultural productivity, cheaper inputs, better realizations, and appropriate financing.

2. What is the problem Dvara E-Registry trying to solve through its offerings?

Dvara E-Registry provides technological and financial services that will help to enhance the productivity of smallholder farmers in rural India. Smallholder farmers face both supply and demand issues when it comes to financing their operations. In terms of supply, they face numerous challenges, including getting agricultural loans, advice, appropriate inputs and the ability to sell their outputs.

Not only farmers but financial institutions face a lot of problems when trying to find the right customers for their products and services. For instance, banks face many challenges in evaluating a farmer's credit. For FIs to assess loan performance, they need to identify the land parcel, verify the crops sown, monitor growth, and estimate the crop yield. To tackle these problems Dvara E-Registry has stepped up and created a full-stack solution that is beneficial not only for farmers and lenders but all players in the Agri value chain, including sellers of inputs and buyers of outputs.

3. Throw some light on your business model. What is your monetization model?

Dvara E-Registry is a digital platform to enable all stakeholders in the agri-value chain, especially small-scale farmers, to gain access to financial services and agricultural markets. In addition to providing access to inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, Dvara E-Registry also helps farmers obtain credit and insurance from financial institutions and to sell their produce through farmer producer organizations (FPOs). The company identifies and bridges critical gaps in the Agri ecosystem so that no farmer is deprived of any financial or technical support.

Dvara E-Registry has developed ‘Doordrishti’, a comprehensive digital platform for the farming sector that provides farmers with access to a range of services. By leveraging traditional and alternative data, Doordrishti is able to digitize farmers’ and FPOs’ land and business activity and offers them products and services specific to their farms and crops.

Dvara E-Registry has also developed an AI-based farm score called KhetScore. It is a farm report on the historical performance of the concerned land parcel. It utilizes remote sensing data from several satellites to enable both retrospective and concurrent monitoring of agricultural activity.

Thousands of farmers throughout the country use Doordrishti, Agricultural Lending, and Analytics Services from Dvara in partnership with a host of government organizations, financial institutions, and agricultural stakeholders such as the Government of Odisha, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)Avanti Finance, Monexo, DCB Bank, Plantix, Yara, etc. The Dvara E-Registry currently has 95 FPOs spread across 10 states of India, and Doordrishti directly impacts 23,000 farmers.

Dvara’s monetization model is derived from making Doordrishti services available to various agricultural players. We offer plot level analytics to financial institutions that help them make smart credit underwriting decisions, we offer consolidated farmer data to FPOs that help them aggregate input and output supplies and connect appropriately with input sellers and output buyers. We offer our real-time monitoring technology to banks and insurance companies that help remotely monitor the usage of crop loans and/ or any claims towards crop damage. The idea is to monetize each transaction by connecting demand for specific products and services with their supply.

4. What technologies have you been leveraging to disrupt the agricultural space in the country?

For growth stage monitoring, health assessment, and yield estimation, we use remote sensing (RS), GIS, smartphone artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) in KhetScore. To assess credit risk, our ML and AI modules analyze data to capture and assess all sources of risk in farming. This includes production risk, financial risk, and climate risk. It assists with credit underwriting of agricultural loans so that the value of agricultural output can be evaluated. Furthermore, we use geospatial technology to calculate latitude, longitude, and timestamps to offer data analytics at the land parcel and farm level using high-resolution satellite imagery, and cadastral and weather data.

5. How do you compare and contrast India’s agriculture sector with that of other economies?

India’s agricultural sector has a majority of marginal, smallholder and tenant farmers as compared to the rest of the world. This demographic is additionally riddled with issues like lack of access to regulated financial support, knowledge to increase agricultural productivity and lack of access to technology that enables them in doing so. Larger landholdings enable farmers to adopt mechanization, technology and resources that help in multiple cropping, increased profits and year-round revenue. In India unfortunately, that is not the reality. The majority of the farmers that are smallholders and marginal struggle to allocate finances for basic input requirements, scaling up is a farfetched ambition. Thus aggregation is a focal point for bringing appropriate products and services to farmers at scale in an efficient manner.

6. What is the product/service enhancement roadmap?

We envision product and service enhancement in terms of providing more accessible, scalable and profitable services that directly benefit the smallholder farmer while scaling the reach of other players in the agri value chain. For instance, Dvara E-Registry has now begun implementing a soil testing mechanism for its partner FPOs that helps in not only increase the soil health of the lands owned by smallholder farmers but is profitable for them in decreasing their costs of buying unnecessary fertilizers. Through our custom advisory that is derived from block-specific weather data, Dvara E-Registry is able to enable farmers to take preventive measures as opposed to curative methods towards their crop health, which is critical in preventing losses as opposed to reducing losses. Similarly, Dvara is partnering with various other organizations in an effort to increase farmer and FPO income like provision of cattle loans, training on income-generating Agri allied activities, etc.

The key for service enhancement lies in the details of each agricultural activity. We believe in building implementable solutions and seamless technology that enables these solutions with the sole aim of making agriculture profitable for all stakeholders.

7. What gives your company a competitive advantage?

One of the critical factors that give Dvara E-Registry an edge is the medium of engagement with the smallholder farmers – through the FPOs. An integral part of Dvara E-Registry’s work is combining the power of aggregation with data. By engaging with smallholder farmers through FPOs, Dvara E-Registry is empowering FPOs as small-scale sustainable businesses, increasing their engagement and trust with their member farmers while being able to reach an exponentially higher number of farmers. A second key competitive advantage is the ability to offer everything that a smallholder farmer needs on one platform, including input sales, out purchase, advice, credit and insurance.

8. Elaborate on the present market scenario. What kind of business opportunities do you see in this segment?

Our Model of engaging with FPOs is consistent with the Government’s vision of connecting every smallholder farmer with an FPO. The 10,000 FPO programme is only the start and with several other states establishing FPO platforms, we believe that our platform is precisely tailored to helping FPOs and their members succeed. As these FPOs scale so too will our business.

9. Lastly, what are your expansion plans for the coming 3-5 years?

We are now expanding our presence across the country, from the ten states that we presently work in. We expect to work with many more clusters of FPOs, with much more scale in providing inputs, outputs, credit, insurance and other services to farmers. We expect significant growth in the pace of product development that will yield in the development of sector-specific products and technologies that will help drive expansion.

(Author: Shivam Dwivedi)

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