Story of a young D2C startup, empowering Indian farmers by building demand-backed supply chain to offer equal value to farmers and consumers alike
The on-going pandemic continues to overwhelm the nation’s economy and business ecosystem, impacting all sections of the society. Agriculture is no exception, being hit especially hard, when the value chain got disrupted as a result of the sudden transition, and consumption patterns altered drastically to fit new-world requirements. During this ordeal, several farmers and cultivators suffered losses, and some even lost their livelihood.
This led to a shift in emphasis from refining farm laws to more pressing concerns associated with low productivity, high pricing, and falling returns for farmers. Climate change, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss, along with changing tastes, preferences, and patterns of an increasingly conscious population have further impacted the segment. Today's farmers and cultivators are struggling to map demand and supply shifts while trying to meet the ever-growing expectations of consumers.
Creating a sense of belonging through community
Farming in India is largely a community-driven activity. Deep Rooted.Co has always been committed to building an ecosystem that will benefit both farmers and customers. The approach has helped them aggregate the small farmers they partner with into a community who are not only better represented, but better heard, and more empowered. At a time when farmers are migrating to cities to embrace alternate paths, this community of farmers has thrived, prospered, and fallen in love with the art of farming all over again.
Deep Rooted.Co was founded to empower the farmers and address this gap
Childhood friends Avinash, Santosh, Guru, and Arvind (the founders of Deep Rooted.Co) enjoyed weekends at a coffee estate owned by one of them in Chikmagalur, Karnataka. One afternoon, over coffee and conversations, inspired by the backdrop and Avinash’s curiosity around greenhouse farming, they came up with the idea of fresh and clean cultivation. Their journey began soon after, first with a hydroponics farm as a B2B venture before evolving into a model which provides value to the larger ecosystem.
A first-hand view of farmers' challenges and worries gave the tetrad an insight into grassroot problems. In the process, the co-founders observed that there is a substantial gap between what consumers are looking for, in terms of quality, availability, and price, versus what farmers were working towards. These farmers were operating individually, without any sustainable cultivation strategy, striving to map end-consumer needs with what to grow for a sustainable yield.
We learnt early on that while demand has become more structured, supply has not. That was our cue.”
Avinash BR, Co-founder of Deep Rooted.Co
Soon after, they brought together small polyhouse (greenhouse) farmers, to organise the supply side of fresh agricultural produce by establishing the concept of, ‘managed farms’ offering end-to-end intervention. The approach was to first, take into account end consumer demands, and then offer a full-stack agronomy service to farmers: guiding them on what to grow, how to grow, how much to grow, when to harvest, and more. With this strategy, farmers in Deep Rooted.Co network have not only boosted profits by 25-30%, but also increased yield by several-fold, and significantly decreased post harvest wastage from 30% to 6%.
“As a young brand, we are striving towards building an equitable balance between our farmers and consumers. By minimizing the number of intermediaries between farmers and consumers, we have built a high-quality focused supply chain ensuring both consumers, and farmers at either end of the supply chain benefit,” added Avinash.
Founded in February 2021, the company follows a demand-driven supply chain model that aggregates small landholders. This lets them get a fair price, increase their incomes, become entrepreneurs, and continue farming. By working together with the farmers as a community, the company is encouraging them to transcend the uncontrollable variables in the ecosystem and focus on standardizing yields, reducing waste of perishable goods, increasing productivity, and guaranteeing quality consistency. Through the primary pillar of harvest to home, Deep Rooted.Co now has more than 90 farmers operating across 120 acres of land in Bangalore and Hyderabad, growing crops under the direction of experts and agronomists.
I had been cultivating cotton for over 10 years, and was always curious about the nuances of cultivating vegetables. As my cotton production faced dwindling returns from the pandemic, I opted to cultivate different crops. At the time, my company had taken its biggest hit, and I discovered Deep Rooted.Co. They reached out to me with a promise to not only help upskill my techniques and expand variants, but also introduce a new ecosystem of demand-backed produce and increased profitability. It has been a year of successful association with Deep Rooted.Co and further expansion of my agricultural journey. With their constant guidance, I am now growing the best quality produce and have successfully scaled my business. Earlier, finance had always been always an issue, restricting growth and options. Now with a 25-30% boost in numbers, I am not only able to scale my operations, but also hone my skills for a sustainable and secure future
Chethireddy Prabhakar Reddy, a Hyderabad-based farmer, who now specialises in cabbage farming in Dacharam, Gajwal Mandal.