7. Private Amazon, BharatAgri's $6.5 Mn Fundraise & Cargill's Digital Saathi (Friend) Platform Launch
What I Didn't Talk About When I Talked About Amazon's Foray into Indian Agriculture; Making Sense of BharatAgri's Fundraise; Cargill sings 'Kisan, Mere Digital Saathi' (Farmer, My Friend)
Hi! My name is Venky. I write Agribusiness Matters every week to help us make sense of vexing questions of food, agribusiness, and digital transformation in an era of Climate change. Feel free to dig around the archives if you are new here.
Amazon’s Kisan (Farmer) Store Launch: Addendum
Last week, when I wrote 6. Unbound Agriculture, covering Amazon’s Kisan (Farmer) Store Launch in India, I naively thought I had covered almost every angle concerning Amazon’s Kisan (Farmer) Store Launch in India. It took one comment (no link, I am not going to embarrass myself further) from an astute reader to dispel that illusion.
Let me talk about that because I think it’s super important. It got me looking at Amazon’s Foray into Indian Agriculture in a genuinely new light. It’s pretty close to that “Damn, how did I miss this?” feeling you get during the climax of The Sixth Sense when you discover that Bruce Willis has been a ghost all the while through the movie.
So what did I miss?
If you study Amazon’s foray into private labels both in India and globally, there has been a predictable pattern:
In February 2020, I had featured Bharat Agri in Digital Agronomy Unmagic Quadrant, and despite my unmagic quadrant promise (magical things possibly cannot happen ‘to those who find themselves in not just the right side, but any side of the quadrant’), it feels good to see BharatAgri surviving and chugging along the agritech long game.
As I had written,
“Bharat Agri is betting on a direct-pay-for-agronomy services model, when compared to Agrostar's indirect-pay-for-services model through free agronomy advice. Indirect pay has more risks and skin-in-the-game issues, if you go by Nassim Nicholas Taleb's golden advice for agronomy players.
You can't be serious about agronomy when you have agri inputs to sell. You either give agronomy advice, or you sell agri inputs. It's unethical to think you can do both.
And when you contrast their old short-term tariff card with their simplified, new tariff card that is more aligned towards subscriptions, you see shoots of optimism.
Cargill Sings, “Kisan(Farmer), Mere Digital Saathi” to the familiar tune of the Elephant.
Cargill launches Digital Saathi application, mobile-first local online services platform
Although they had introduced it in February 2021, as per their 2021 Cargill annual report
“in 5 districts of Karnataka including Davangere, Bellary, Haveri, Chitradurga and Shimoga”, building on the ground infrastructure work they had kickstarted in 2017 in collaboration with Technoserve. Through Bhadra Farmer Producer Corporation, they are selling agri inputs and procuring mainly maize (and other commodities) for farmers in close proximity to the Davengere corn wet milling plant that was constructed in 2016.
Perhaps, it’s too early. This approach is starting to remind me of Olam’s Agricentral App which was launched in 2019, with the latest data claiming 5 Mn downloads.
Apart from my indulgence in gifs and terrible graphic skills, in this long subscriber-only piece, I begin my foray into the world of ABCD commodity traders and their digital strategy, the likely reasons behind the demerger of Olam, and the likely repercussions when Amazon launches private labels for seeds and agrochemicals in India in their farmer store 3P marketplace.
I hope to see some of you join the Agribusiness Matters community.