Agricultural Sector: A significant sector neglected from the investors

Agriculture forms the major occupation of around 70% of the Indian population. It provides principal means of livelihood and forms the major backbone of the Indian economy. Still agriculture sector has not seen the kind of growth expected by a developing country like India. To overcome the difficulties faced by the farmers, there are few farmers who themselves come up with an innovative solution to address their problems.

One such farmer Mr. Gopal Dave; from a small and remote village Salawas, from Jodhpur (Rajasthan) has developed an innovative equipment for the farm. He is a farmer from birth and his income and livelihood depends completely on farming. For such farmers even a penny savings matters a lot and has a huge impact on their revenue stream. He faced difficulty in distributing the seeds while sowing. Most of the farmers face this issue of uneven distribution. As this job is done manually by the farmers, there is high wastage of seeds due to distribution at unwanted places. So with his experience in farming over the years, he designed a methodology which can help in even distribution of the seeds and reduce its wastage too.

Gopal started his research and practice back in 1997 to develop Multi Crop Seed Drill equipment. His path to success was not easy and it took him almost a decade to fine tune his equipment as desirable. Till 2007 he continued practicing and remodeling his equipment to achieve perfection.

Gopal with his Multi Crop Drill Innovation

Gopal with his Multi Crop Drill Innovation

There are similar equipment in the market but they do not do multispeed sowing for mixed cropping. The innovation by Gopal has addressed this problem and he has been able to sell this equipment to more than thousands of farmers across various regions. This unique multi crop drill is able to sow all kinds of seeds right from bajra, jowar till pulses, except for cotton seeds. This drill can be used for fertilizers spreading as well. So the farmers have dual advantage of fertilizer cum seeds distribution. Since both these commodities are expensive and account for major costs in farming, this drill helps the farmers to save a considerable amount of money and increase their margins thereby.

Competitive Advantage:
• It has a unique metering system which allows the farmers to sow seeds based on the weight of the seeds. Right from 200gm upto 60Kg of seeds or fertilizers can be sowed using this drill.
• It has a power wheel setup which can be linked to the cultivator / tractor, which distributes seeds only when the cultivator runs.
• The drill can maintain uniform speed to seed distance and the seed level inside the seed hopper can be seen from driver’s seat.
• The device saves labor and time consumed in clearing seed containers for next seed sowing and the time and cost of second sowing. It is best suited for mixed cropping. The seed rate can be adjusted from 3 kg/acre for a small size seed to 60 kg/acre for grain or similar crops.
• No wastage of seeds at turns and higher speed

Achievements: Gopal’s innovation is recognized by the government of India, under the MVIF scheme of National Innovation Foundation – India. He was felicitated by prior Union Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Sharad Pawar; for addressing a problem faced by many farmers which no one had thought about. He has also applied for patent at Delhi office (No. 365/DEL/2008) and is still pending grant.

Marketing Strategy: Gopal has been able to sell up to 500-600 units per month recently. However, the awareness about this innovation is still very limited. The only way he has been able to create awareness is through Word-of-Mouth publicity and through strong networking among the farmers community. In 2010, one farmer named Mr. Venugopal Reddy from Andhra Pradesh met Gopal and he came to know about his innovation. Venugopal was impressed about it and took one equipment along with him. After he experienced its benefits he has been placing orders from Gopal for other famers in his region. Apart from Andhra Pradesh this equipment is distributed in different parts of Rajasthan like Jaisalmer, Nagaur, Jodhpur, Jalore, Barmer, Pali and Sirohi.

Path Ahead: Gopal being a small scale farmer and he hails from a small village where internet connectivity is out of question. Also, these farmers are not much aware about marketing tactics and lack appropriate means to publicize. They do not have enough funds to take their idea to next step and lack skills to scale up their operations. In order to help him make his idea big, investors should come ahead to provide a helping hand. Gopal do not want to commercialize his innovation but only to create awareness about the Multi Crop Seed Drill to as many farmers as possible to pass on the benefits.

There are many such grass root innovators who do not have a degree or educational qualification at hand and still based on their aptitude try to bring out a change in the society. And agriculture is one of the sector which has been neglected by the investors and people are not keen on taking risk in this sector. However, it remains to be pondered about why investors are not eager to invest in the sector which forms the backbone of the economy? Why investors / promoters are looking only for an IIT/IIM passout graduates to invest their money? Why even government is not recognizing the talent hidden in various regions in India?

Contributed by my colleague, Snehal Mahajan

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