Starting today, in a series that lasts this whole week, we introduce you to our new incubatee companies that are working across various sectors, innovating and developing products and services that solve key problems of the urban and rural poor in India.
Today, Devi Murthy, founder of agribusiness company Kamal Kisan, tells us about her work and vision:
What does your company do?
Although India is the third largest tractor manufacturer in the world, less than 2% of our farms use mechanization (Dept. of Agricultural statistics). Kamal Kisan aims to change this situation by developing farm machinery that is specifically suited for small farm owners in India.
Kamal Kisan first identifies areas of intervention using the following criteria:
* Crops/operations, which are heavily labor dependent
* Operations that have a significant contribution to total cost of cultivation
* Operations that currently do not have major mechanisation for small farmers
Kamal Kisan then works towards developing machines with the following features:
* Can be effectively used by small farm owners
* Will integrate into current agricultural practices for seamless adoption
* Use of simple technology to enable ease of maintenance
* Little/no dependence on fuel to reduce susceptibility to fuel costs
* Must be able to reduce current labor cost by 50%
Why are you excited about this space?
As a product development engineer in a sheet metal company, I craved to do work that creates social impact. While I was evaluating impact areas where I could use my skills as, it was suggested that I explore agricultural equipment. After visiting various institutes such as CIAE (Bhopal), UAS (Dharwad) and interacting with farmers, I realised that a large gap had been created between the needs of the Indian farmer and the expensive large-sized imports. This led me to initiate Kamal Kisan.
During my interaction with various stakeholders in the agricultural equipment market, which included equipment manufacturers, research institution and channel partners, I found a lack of empathy for the most important member of this ecosystem, the farmers! While India is the third largest tractor manufacturer in the world, we still do not have any major player in the market that focus on the 83% small & marginal farmers. Most research institutions are developing equipments that are too complex for farmers to use.
With time I understood the situation and came to believe that the challenge of creating a simpler solution focused on the small farmers’ of India was the right opportunity to combine my engineering skills and motivation to help farmers.
What is innovative about your product?
Sugarcane planter: Kamal Kisan’s planter is the first of its kind. It enables farmers to plant one acre of cane in three hours with just three people. Currently, sugar cane planting is done manually over 6-8 days with the use of up to 30 people. Kamal Kisan’s product will help farmers save at least 50% labor costs and over 60% increase in efficiency. The planter will be attached to a tractor and will be able to open ridges, place sugar cane billets and cover the billet with soil, essentially planting three operations all at once!
Mini rice mill: The mini rice mill, as the name suggests, is a miniature mill that is used to convert paddy into unpolished rice. It can convert up to 80 kg of paddy into unpolished rice. Most farmers today do not have the option of consuming their own paddy since they do not have access to the mills that are able to process small volumes of paddy without any mix-up and can offer a higher recovery rate than 60%. The solution offered by Kamal Kisan will help farmers get higher recovery, consume their own paddy, give them the option of value addition and self-branding. In case of organic farmers, the rice mill can help them ensure that the rice also remains organic.
What is the impact you want to have?
Over 83% of farmers in India are small & marginal farmers, who do not have access to effective mechanisation. Kamal Kisan aims to build effective solutions that look beyond the tractorisation of India. We hope to reach five lakh farmers over the next five years and help with at least 50% reduction in the current labour spending for various agricultural processes.
How do you think Villgro will help?
Villgro’s network, connections and most importantly mentorship will be the greatest asset to Kamal Kisan. The objective and structure of the programme fits in perfectly with Kamal Kisan’s timelines and we are excited to being embarking on this journey with their guidance and support.
Also read this Economic Times article on Villgro's new investments: Social business incubator Villgro makes 7 new investments