Hyderabad: Jogi Reddy, a Hyderabad-based farmer, was left with 30 quintals of papaya which he could not sell due to the national lockdown announced on March 24. He was worried that the fruits might get rotten as there were no retailers or transporters available to sell his produce. Reddy’s brother from Canada knew about a twitter page run by Ruchit Garg named Harvesting Farming Network (HFN) and he shared details about his brother’s farm on it.

After a few days, Reddy could find some buyers for his produce.

NewsMeter contacted Garg to know how his start-up would benefit the farmers. He said that he had launched the Twitter page 12 days ago to help the small-scale farmers sell their produce during the lockdown. “I posted
the details of six farmers and their produce and they could get buyers.”

Through his start-up, Garg pooled a group of farmers whom he contacted through WhatsApp numbers mentioned on the Twitter page. The number of farmers who shared their details on the Twitter page swelled with each
passing day, he said, with a glee on his face.

The Twitter page contains information about the farmer including his name, mobile phone number, quantity of produce and the location. The buyer can directly contact the farmer and purchase the produce, thus
bridging the gap between the farmer and the buyer.

To add credibility to the initiative, videos of farmers speaking or pictures of their produce are also uploaded on the Twitter page.

“People in cities are understanding the distress of farmers which is making it easy for the consumers to connect with the ryots,” said Garg.

“Within 12 days of the launch of the start-up, we have enabled sale of around 30,000 kg of produce. The overwhelming response made me understand that there were many customers for agri produce and it also helped us in forming different communities in different cities. Many celebrities tweeted about us and we slowly gained publicity.”

Speaking about the transportation of the produce, a major issue faced by these farmers, Garg said that he was trying to streamline it through his contacts and Twitter. “When there is a huge quantity to be shifted, we took the help of Indian Railways’ SETU initiative. Once, the railways transported 20 tonne of sweet lime from Andhra Pradesh to Maharashtra, he recollected and added that they were planning to come up with Harvesting Express, in
cooperation with the Indian Railways.

Garg said that initially, they had to educate farmers about their initiative and the Twitter page. The farmers found it hard to switch over to use of technology to sell their produce. “We had to explain the farmers how it will work and at the same time, the customers were also made to understand that they cannot buy only 2-3 kg but that they had to buy in bulk as farmer use trucks to shift their produce. Shifting only 2-3 kg from the farm to the city in a lorry which has a capacity of 5,000 kg will put the farmer at a loss,” he pointed out.

Garg explained that in Bengaluru, around 70,000 apartments formed into a community and they ordered in bulk. The produce was delivered by farmers and then the community looked into its distribution. “When farmers call me and say that they had sold their produce, it brings immense happiness to me. At the same time, customers also ring
me and express their satisfaction which makes me double happy,” Garg revealed.

Disclosing his future plans, he said that he would launch a website to make the whole process easy.

NewsMeter also contacted Jogi Reddy to know about his experience with the technology-driven apps. He recalled, “I got a call saying that they saw my post on HFN and the consumer bought 100kg. The buyer only
arranged for transport and so, I had no problem.” Reddy’s farm is in Kalvakurthi, 60 km away from Hyderabad. He said,

“Surprisingly, there had been a bumper yield this year and I hope to sell all of it before getting damaged.” The papayas harvested will not get spoilt in the next 10 days, he said.

Explaining about the major issues being faced by farmers amid lockdown, Kiran Kumar Vissa, coordinator of Rythu Swarajya Vedika says, “The lockdown has disrupted the supply chain and this is forcing the farmers to sell their produce at a lesser price as they fear it would get spoilt if it remained with them for a longer time. There are
some retail outlets buying the farm produce directly from the farmer but it is not sufficient to provide succour to the farmer. The government should take measures to keep the supply chain intact and ensure that the farmers do not incur losses.”

Aiswarya Sriram

Aiswarya Sriram is a budding multimedia journalist and is currently working for NewsMeter. A graduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, Aiswarya has earlier worked with The Logical Indian and has interned with Republic TV. Aiswarya, a Tamilian who was born and brought up in Mumbai, loves to do rural reporting. She has visited Byadgi Taluk of Karnataka, to write about the issues faced by chilli factory workers there, earlier in 2019. A craft enthusiast, Aiswarya also does quilling, painting and glass work. On her off-days, she loves to read crime-thrillers and watch anime. She primarily reports on civic issues, GHMC, human-interesting features, and fact-checking video stories.

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