Guest Author: Dhruv Sawhney, COO & Business Head, nurture.farm
05 July 2022, New Delhi: India has a predominantly agrarian economy, with 57% of people engaged in agriculture and allied activities. With its vast and flourishing agriculture space, the country is approaching food self-sufficiency in terms of production. However, resource-intensive farming and low farmer productivity continue to influence the sector, resulting in poverty and malnutrition. In addition, agriculture has also been one of the biggest producers of carbon footprint.
Indian farmers need to be educated, guided and directed towards adopting sustainable agricultural practices that ensure a better yield at significantly lower input costs. Formed in 2020, nurture.farm is an agritech startup that aims to address and solve the issues of sustainability, profitability and resilience for farmers. In merely two years of its operations, nurture.farm has become a leading AgTech start-up for growers – with over 1.6 million farmers using its app-based services, the company has become one of India’s biggest online farming communities.
nurture.farm concentrates on finding new and innovative ways to collaborate with farmers to help them transition to climate-positive practices to produce sustainably. A few of its unique offerings are:
1. Access to latest farm machinery – nurture.farm has a fleet of over thousands of farm equipment listed on its app, the largest of its kind in India and possibly globally. Farmers can book these farm machinery through the nurture.farm app at nominal charges. They tend to increase efficiency by adopting farm mechanisation while saving time, money, water, and labour. For instance, access to spraying equipment reduces their cost of spraying per acre, ensuring around 50-60% cost saving for them. Or, by availing drone services, they can do precision spraying in crops such as paddy or chilli, where it is otherwise difficult. Not only does it reduce the time to spray an entire field (an acre takes approximately 10 minutes), but it also saves up to 90% water consumption. The use of precision farming ensures lower usage of chemicals, lower run-off into groundwater/streams, and immense savings in water consumption and labour costs.
2. Uberisation of agriculture equipment – Tractor sharing and rentals has been a very old and common scenario in India. Each village may have a handful of tractors, but every farmer needs one. Typically once their work is done, the farmers who own tractors deploy these machines for other farmers to rent. nurture.farm is now evolving as a platform of choice for these farmers to list their tractors and other equipment for rental purposes. The nurture.farm app offers around 20,000 pieces of equipment belonging to over thirty various kinds of farm machinery like tractors, harvesters, combines, etc., making it a shared economy platform. Through the app, farmers can list their farm equipment and rent them out to their peers, not just in their village but across several villages.
3. Promoting sustainable agriculture – nurture.farm launched the Crop Residue Management (CRM) Program in Haryana and Punjab in June 2021, the largest project to eliminate stubble burning in India. By combining biotechnology, digitalisation and farm mechanisation, the program empowered over 25,000 farmers to prevent 420,000 acres of farmland from being burnt, thereby preventing the generation of 2,135 tonnes of particulate matter, including PM 2.5 and PM 10.
For sustainable use of water, nurture.farm promotes the Alternate Wetting and Drying-Dry Seeded Rice (AWD-DSR) program. In 2021, nurture.farm ran the AWD-DSR program on 22,000 acres in Punjab and Haryana. In the winter season, nurture.farm led the program on 120,000 acres in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Over the course of both programs, over 80,000 small and marginal farmers were supported with the technology to perform AWD-DSR, which led to 15% to 30% water savings. The company further aims to bring more than a million farmers into these sustainability initiatives in the coming year.
4. Enrolling farmers into carbon credit programs – nurture.farm leverages technology to bridge the gap that exists in registering Indian farms for carbon credits programs. It achieves this by digitising farms and farming practices, and using remote sensing to monitor and validate proof points for the many sustainable activities it encourages among its farmers. By geotagging farms, it helps to eliminate discrepancies in data, making it independently verifiable by third-party carbon verifying agencies. In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, nurture.farm enabled more than 50,000 farmers across 1,20,000 acres to practise alternate wetting and drying for their paddy crop, tracking their work via a mobile app. The process generated digital proof points enabling these farmers to compound their work into a project eligible for carbon credits, one of its first kinds in India.
5. Easy and affordable insurance solutions – Offering insurance is another way nurture.farm is influencing and nudging its farmers for a behavioural change to embrace financial protection tools. Since every season, every region faces weather-related calamities, nurture.farm offers smart and easy insurance protection to cover its farmers against weather-related adversities. Through its products like KAVACH, farmers do not have to intimate for insurance-related claims. The product is designed to have predefined parameters of cash-out based on localised weather, thus ensuring automatic payouts within a week of the rainfall breach. nurture.farm is further partnering with leading Indian insurance companies to bring several such smart and affordable insurance solutions to its farming community.
The nurture.farm app is emerging as a one-stop-shop for the Indian farmer. By availing the agtech’s services, farmers can shift to more sustainable agriculture practices, reduce wastage, and protect their bottomline, thus becoming more resilient. nurture.farm is headquartered in Bengaluru, but the brand plans to expand its footprint across India and the globe.
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