Connecting Indian farmers to global markets

ImpactAlpha Editor

David Bank

David Bank chats with FarMart’s Samridhi Singh in the next conversation in our series from the recent Salzburg Global Seminar on “Connecting Capital to Communities,” sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Host Monique Aiken has the headlines. 

Farmers aren’t going to trust just anybody. For five years, the founders of FarMart, the Gurgaon-based agricultural products platform that has become one of India’s fastest-growing tech companies, struggled to get traction for their services – and to get crops to sell their customers. Growth took off about two years ago when FarMart discovered who the country’s 150 million smallholder farmers do trust. About two million “mom-and-pop” shops sell farmers seeds and fertilizer, extend credit and provide advice.

“It’s a very beautiful relationship. We don’t get in between the relationship,” Singh explains on this week’s podcast. “But we tell them that we’re going to help you connect your farmers to the market.”

Singh describes FarMart as the AirBnB of Indian agriculture – a food supplier with no land, no warehouses and no trucks but that is nonetheless able to aggregate commodities to sell to global food companies. FarMart helps farmers raise their incomes, gives shop operators digital tools and additional products and services to sell, and even plays a role in reducing food waste and building food security. None of that is its real business.

“These large food businesses buy from us, because we’re assuring them the quality that they want. We’re showing them the price that they want. And we do it a lot faster than anyone,” Singh says. The key: Finding the community assets that already have farmers’ trust. “That was an ‘aha’ moment. it took five years to get this insight that has, like, 100X potential for the sector.”