Krishi Jagran team interacted with Anuj Kumbhat, the Founder & CEO, Weather Risk Management Services to know about the company, its vision and services.
1.Tell us about your company and what does it do? What were the challenges of setting up and scale? How did you overcome them?
Weather Risk Management Services (WRMS), headquartered in Gurgaon, is a pioneer in smart and sustainable farming in India. It was founded by Sonu Agarwal, Anuj Kumbhat, and Ashish Agarwal as an endeavor to empower farmers in overcoming the most daunting agrarian challenges. WRMS leverages data, technology, and financial innovation to help farmers enhance productivity, gain a secure income, and practice sustainable farming. The company offers farm level yield assurance to smallholder farmers.
From designing weather risk management services to developing the world’s first income guaranteed smart & sustainable farms, WRMS is home to numerous national and international firsts. Be it devising the world’s 1st village-level insurance settlement solution using low-cost AWS or creating India’s first solution that combined Index Insurance with Farm Advisory and cutting-edge Weather Forecasting Services, the company has always helmed innovation in the sector.
Incubated by IIT Kanpur in 2004 with investments from SIDBI, the company has received investments and grants from luminaries like UPL, ILO, and the Ford Foundation. Over the years, WRMS has built a strong reputation with a formidable presence across 22 states in India and 15 countries across the globe. WRMS is also the first organization to launch Index Insurance in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Fiji. With its team of 500+ multi-disciplinary experts across Agricultural Science, Data Science, Meteorology, Actuarial Science, and Information Technology, the company is always working upon breakthroughs that can make the agriculture and dairy sector more robust.
WRMS is on a mission to revolutionize the farming sector by connecting farmers with the latest technology in the Agri space. With its product SecuFarm, WRMS offers farm-level yield assurance to smallholder farmers and brings them on the path to sustainable farming. The app helps farmers in achieving more productive and sustainable farming, thus, uplifting their socio-economic status.
The company has 5 offices in India, covering key cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Aurangabad. The company also has a manufacturing facility and technology development center in Kanpur.
Challenges faced while setting up and scaling the business
17 years of WRMS journey is filled with challenges we have overcome. With advanced technology and lasting relationships with farmers across the country, we are revolutionizing the farming sector. We are looking for investors that are interested in the sector and apart from providing the capital, can be our passionate ambassadors for the expansion of our products. WRMS is at a juncture where our products and services have a proven track record of quality and service. Our challenge is to get the capital scale up to expand each of these product lines. Our 4 major product segments can be easily expanded to generate revenue of Rs. 150 crores each in the next 3-5 years with the right amount of capital investment and business expansion support.
2. What are the Key USPs that stand you apart from the companies operating in the Agritech space?
Having an expansive experience of almost two decades in the sector, WRMS has worked prolifically with some of the leading names in the agro-input and procurement industry like Pepsico, Safal, ITC, Mother Dairy, etc. along with government and govt-run bodies like NCFC, APSDPS, KSNDMC and Bihar Government. With over 2.5 million farmers served, 1 million acres of land geo-tagged and 10,000+ IoT devices installed, WRMS is a leader in the agriculture and dairy risk management industry.
Under its Comprehensive Agricultural Risk Management Solution, WRMS has become a global pioneer in Income Guaranteed Smart & Sustainable Farming Solutions. WRMS is the only company that offers farm-level risk management using Risk Pricing Models and provides integrated risk management and regulatory services that help financial institutions, insurers, and corporates understand, quantify, and manage their risk associated with weather – earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and other weather events – and crop yields. WRMS has also partnered time and again with multilateral agencies such as Work Bank Group, UNCDF, and insurance bodies like ICICI Lombard, HDFC Ergo, to name a few.
We are not just a smart farming company, but one that offers SecuFarm — the world’s first Smart & Sustainable Farming solution that provides an assured income to the farmers.
SecuFarm = Smart Farming + Income Security + Sustainability.
3. Digital innovations are driving the agricultural sector of India towards a paradigm shift. What are the measures taken by your brand to boost this drive?
Digital innovation is the future of the agri sector, and that's why we stay ahead of time. Ingen Technologies– a wholly-owned subsidiary of WRMS founded in the year 2008 – is a leading weather and logistics service provider in India. Our technology solutions enhance the dairy and agriculture risk management capabilities of private organizations, banks & insurance companies, and government bodies. Ingen's focus is to develop and manufacture smart IoTs with groundbreaking research in sensor and networking technology that help unlock value in commercial and social businesses.
We leverage technology – indigenous & locally-manufactured by our organisation – and our strong inhouse team of meteorologists, remote sensing experts, and IoT specialists to provide data & forecast services to various companies and government organizations in insurance, energy, dairy, and agriculture sectors. Some of the main products that we manufacture in-house include Automatic Weather Stations, Automatic Irrigation Switch, Pest Traps, Agriculture Survey Drones, Vehicle Tracking System, etc. Ingen offers end-to-end management of AWS (manufacturing, supply, installation, operation) to help clients access real-time weather data at the maximum security level. Also, we apply Automatic Intelligence and deep learning on historical data and gain estimated values of present data. This AI feature enables us to retrieve quantifiable data through which farmers can maintain sustainable farming methods.
4.How does WRMS build smallholder farmers’ resilience to climate change?
WRMS is an industry leader in Climate Outlook and Weather Forecasting Services and builds resilience against vagaries of weather. WRMS helps farmers foresee weather-based risks within a smaller time frame and adopt the right practices to mitigate the risk. We foresee & estimate long-term climate-related risks and identify the markets/geographies exposed to minimum risks. WRMS identifies business models vulnerable to climate risk in a time horizon of the next 10 to 25 years.
5.Can you please throw light on your flagship platform SecuFarmand how it is a one-stop platform for all the farmers?
SecuFarm is the world’s first smart & sustainable farming solution that provides a guaranteed income to the farmers. It empowers farmers to overcome the most difficult agrarian challenges like inadequate rainfall, acidic nature of the soil, minimal soil nutrient, and traditional farming practices. SecuFarm is created by leveraging our multi-disciplinary capability across smart farming, modern data science, and insurance solutions.
When farmers enroll on the SecuFarm app, their farm is geo-tagged for farm level monitoring. Post this our team monitors their farms using drones, satellites and Iot sensors to give them accurate and timely information on weather forecast, crop health, pest attack, soil nutrients, irrigation requirement, and more. Through the SecuFarm app and SMSs Farmers receive timely alerts and advisory. As farmers follow our Package of Practices, they get a higher benchmark yield which is also better in quality. This increases the market demand of their product and gets them good returns. And in case their yield is below the assured yield, they get timely compensation. Thus, the farmer is never at risk with SecuFarm.
Using satellites and IoTs, WRMS monitors the situation on the ground and responds in real-time, with the goal to help farmers overcome the most difficult agricultural obstacles. WRMS Automatic Weather Station (AWS) helps in generating weather forecasts using grid-level data. Automatic Pest Monitor (APM) helps monitor all kinds of pests and provides the pest density remotely by attracting the pest & capturing the image. Whereas, an Automatic Soil Moisture (ASM) sensor provides real-time analysis of the soil health – soil moisture, physical properties, structure, and nutrient contents of soil – of a particular area. AI technology & deep learning is applied to historical data of weather, yield, etc. to provide estimated values of present data wherever other sensors are unable to capture real-time data.
6.What is the future of Agritech in the coming 12 -16 months?
The Indian Agritech sector has huge untapped potential. It has been gaining increased attention from venture capitalists (VCs). Although at a nascent stage, Agritech is bound to change the way agriculture business is done. The wheels are already in motion, and it won’t be long before we see another green revolution-like transformation in India. It will certainly be positive for companies involved in the agricultural ecosystem.
Like all other industries, India's agriculture sector — the biggest contributor to the nation's GDP —also faced huge uncertainties after the coronavirus outbreak. But the technological advancements introduced by startups on the back of strong government collaboration certainly changed the face of the Indian agricultural sector and steered the nation towards a better and self-reliant tomorrow.
The future of Agri storage solutions is clearly more digital, modular, and flexible, bringing in traceability to each farmer's grain and transparency regarding the quality of the produce.
7.What are your growth priorities for 2022?
The Company is seeking investments to expand WRMS Secufarm to a million farmers in 1-2 years’ timeframe. We are also seeking partnerships with like minded organisations working with smallholder farmers and FPOs so that we can reach the deepest pockets of the country where a farmer is sowing a seed in the hope of a good yield.