AgriStartup Gramophone: Farm doctors at your service

The India-based startup is leveraging technology to make farming more predictable and profitable for farmers

Jan 6, 2024 - 21:11
Jan 7, 2024 - 06:58
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AgriStartup Gramophone: Farm doctors at your service

The India-based startup is leveraging technology to make farming more predictable and profitable for farmers 

case scenario :  As a grower of soya beans on his 10-acre farm in Maljipura village in india, if disease struck Jai Prakash Meena’s crop, he would rely on prayer, past experience or the advice of the pesticide vendor in the nearest town. But that often proved inadequate.
 
Enter Gramophone, a startup founded by two  youngsters in May 2018. Tauseef Khan and Nishant Vats Mahatre have developed an app that allows farmers  to access “actionable insights” about their crops from planting to harvesting. 

 
At the time of planting his produce, all a farmer has to do is enter three data points into the app: The crop he is sowing, the date of sowing and the acreage of his field. Based on this information, Gramophone will throw up advice on the kind of inputs the crop needs throughout its life cycle. For instance, at the time of sowing if the crop needs certain nutrients, the app will automatically send a push notification to that effect. Similarly, 15 days into sowing, the app will alert  on the diseases that might afflict the crop at that stage and how to prevent them. If already ravaged by disease, Gramophone will provide suggestions on what inputs to use to combat it. All this is done in a pictorial, easy-to-understand format. “Life has become so much easier now,” says Meena, 40. “And so much more predictable.”
 
It’s like going to a doctor and getting diagnosed with a common cold, explains Khan who serves as CEO. The medic not only gives you medicines to fight the infection, but also puts you on vitamins to beef up your immunity. “Think of us as doctors to farmers who are pained at a lack of accurate information,” says the 31-year-old who worked in agriculture-focused venture capital funds Omnivore Partners and Aspada Investments, as well as at Bengaluru-based farm management solution provider CropIn Technology before setting up Gramophone with Mahatre, 32. Mahatre earlier worked as a consultant with social business builder Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership where he analysed investment opportunities in the agriculture value chain across India. Two others, Harshit Gupta and Ashish Ranjan Singh, joined them later as co-founders, looking into marketing and business development, and technology, respectively.
 
Farmers can also send a picture of their crop to Gramophone through WhatsApp and an agronomist will weigh in on the issue—be it advice on better soil management techniques or the diagnosis of diseases across the cropping cycle. If needed, the agronomist will also visit the farmers’ fields for a personal consultation, all for free. For those not as tech-savvy as Meena or those who don’t own smartphones, Gramophone has the option of giving a missed call on a toll-free number. A 10-person call centre helps the farmer with his query.
 
Gramophone, which has worked with around 80,000 farmers since inception, currently claims to receive 300 missed calls a day on average, accounting for almost 80 percent of its inbound queries. Only about 15-20 percent users access the free service through the app; but as smartphone adoption and data connectivity increase, Khan sees that number rapidly scaling up.
 
Not only is Gramophone’s solution a break away from the agonising, old way of farming, it has also helped increase production. .

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