An engineer quits MNC job to launch a start-up which creates ETP platform for farmers
From being selected for the General Electronic (GE)’s global leadership programme (only few gets chance to attend it), to setting up a technology platform for helping Karnataka farmers, Krishna Kumar, an engineer by profession has come a long way.
Krishna Kumar, CEO Bangalore based Cropin Technology Solutions (CTS), a start-up, launched the initiative in November 2010 after interacting with farmers for more than six months. “After spending close to five years with GE, even my senior colleagues were surprised by move to launch a technology platform for the farmers,” Kumar says.
Kumar generated about Rs 7 lakh mostly from the friends for the start up venture and set up office. “I told them that if my venture goes down, their investment would also go down,” Kumar told while narrating about the formation of his company. Today there are many share holders (mostly ex-colleagues) in the company providing critical support for the growth.
The company has developed a cloud based technology integrated with mobile (apps) to capture the real time data from farms. “This platform captures crop planning, crop stage monitoring, farm auditing, harvesting, yield forecasting, real time farm pest resolution along with traceability,” he said.
Every stages of the crop cycle are captured at the site on the real time basis and instant support is provided to farmers for crop protection for increasing the yield. “We provide the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions which connects farmers to the companies sourcing their produce,” Kumar says.
Initially the corporate engaged in agri-business were skeptical about the viability of the technology platform and after much engagement Safal, the fruits and vegetables wing of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) asked Kumar and his small team to do a pilot project with tomato farmers of Chikballapur district, located about 60 km from India’s IT hub Bangalore.
“Through connecting farmers through our IT platform to agricultural scientists, we could provide best inputs on agronomics to farmers which resulted in increase in production by more than 20% in case of tomato farmers,” Kumar, cofounder and CEO of CTS said.
With successful completion of pilot project for NDDB, many major player in agribusiness sector approached Kumar and his team. Agri majors such as Field Fresh (a Bharati Enterprise), Pepsico, Technico (a division of ITC), Tata Rallies, Omnikan (a division of Kankor Group), Mahindra & Mahindra, Mccain, Nuziveedu Seeds, Mapro, Pradan, Garden Valley etc have all taken the help of technology platform provided by CTS.
The company which has at present about 15 employees has been providing technology solutions agribusiness sector. Cropin’s technology is applied to across more than 25,000 acres of farms and has been used by close 15000 farmers during three years. The company has set up operations in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
The IT platform offers ranges of solutions including farmer registration with geo tagging of land for traceability, land area survey for correct acreage measurement, agri-input distribution tracking – delivery time and quantity, crop stage monitoring with complete health status, pest and disease resolution from central location and real time harvest and consignment tracking for reducing supply chain loss through efficient management
The platform provided by Cropin has also connected farmers to financial institution such as HDFC bank, which is at present started to provide unsecured loans to farmers. “We help the bank to reach farmers faster, collect the required information in realtime using our IT based platform,” Kumar says. The company whose revenue touched Rs 1 crore mark last fiscal is targeting banks, hybrid seeds producer, contract farming companies, food processor, exporters for expanding its business.
“Our aim was to bring affordable state of the art technology in agriculture. So that farmers adopt the best global agricultural practices and make every crop traceable so that harvest crops meet the global standards,” he says.