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Rahee Seeds: India's First Fully Traceable Onion Seed Brand
Technology to build trust and confidence in the seed supply chain
Onion production, globally, is just above 100 million tonnes. China is the largest producer, followed by India and the USA. Between them, these three countries, produce half of the world’s onions.
In the crop year 2021-22, India produced approximately 31 million tons of Onion cultivated on approximately 1.6 million hectares of land generating a farm gate value of about ₹375 billion (around $4.7 billion). Roughly, 42 per cent of that production was in Maharashtra, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Bihar (Source: National Horticulture Board, India).
In India, onion is also one of the “three sensitives” - onion, tomato and potato cumulatively command 2.2 per cent weight in India’s consumer price index (CPI) basket.
A bout of inclement weather leading to acute shortages or even a glut situation often results in a string of alarmist news consequently generating heavy volatility in both food inflation and headline inflation numbers in India. This in turn directly impacts consumer confidence and market sentiment leading to uncertainties for farmers and creating political liabilities. This pattern rings true across many emerging economies in South Asia and West Asia.
Onion is an eye watering’ly tricky crop because farmers suffer from three wild swings and three big shortages:
Three wild swings: Policy, Pricing, Weather and;
Three big shortages: Labour, Knowledge, Awareness
Apart from the sufferings mentioned above, the farmers incur huge losses every season due to “distribution of counterfeit seeds in the market by unscrupulous seed companies”.
A young Indian agri-entrepreneur, Rahul Jadhav, CEO of Rahee Natural Seeds decided to address this issue using technology. His seed business, originally started by his father in the early 1990s, is focused on the research, development, production, processing, and marketing of onion seeds for Indian farmers. They serve more than 15,000 farmers across 10 states in India.
In Q4-2022, Rahee Seeds signed a commercial agreement with FarmSetu Technologies to digitalise their operations and provide full transparency and traceability in Onion seeds using FarmSetu Supply Chain Stack.
Fast forward to 7 months: Rahee Seeds has become India’s (and possibly the world’s) first fully traceable Onion seed brand.
Each and every seed box distributed in the market by the company from June-2023 will have a QR code showing the provenance of the seed and the detailed information on practices followed to cultivate that seed.
The journey to create a fully traceable seed box through a QR code wasn’t that easy. The FarmSetu team started with essential digital building blocks needed for an enterprise, like a corporate website, business emails, and enterprise data/file store.
Once the basic setup was done, both teams moved to onboard the farmers and geotag their seed plots. While this was progressing, the FarmSetu team initiated staff training alongside a review of Rahee’s operational processes.
Extensive field visits were carried out by Rahee Seeds’ team to train farmers, provide them with advice and collect data on field operations and observations throughout the season. This data has been used in the traceability reports.
Before harvesting, QC tests were conducted on the samples drawn from different plots. The seed procurement process was followed by cleaning, grading, packing and more QC tests. Finally, the team created unique batch codes and mapped the seed plots to those batch codes to show full traceability.
Building Knowledge and Awareness
Farmer training has been a critical part of this season. The core idea of the training programme was to build awareness and improve their skills, thus, addressing the “two shortages” listed above - Knowledge and Awareness.
Through FarmSetu’s mobile app, farmers receive curated actionable and knowledge-based content. This content is delivered by subject matter experts with long experience and is available in content formats like text, audio and video.
The advisory articles are supplemented with short, practical, skills-based digital training sessions through the app. These courses are designed and curated by recognised subject matter experts having proven and in-depth domain knowledge of agriculture.
A Higher Purpose
Traceability is not the end in itself. The larger picture is to bring predictability to agriculture through traceability. With traceability, farmers can buy onion seeds with confidence.
With tailor-made knowledge and awareness programmes, a package of practices, accurate weather-based alerts and timely calls to action, FarmSetu inculcates best cultivation practices in farmers. This helps them harvest more yield of high-quality onions which commands premium prices in the market. Supply-side certainty also helps end-consumers with stabilised prices.
Traceability » Predictability » Stability » Sustainability
With better revenue and more profits in hand, farmers ultimately achieve financial sustainability even as our technology helps them achieve environmental sustainability. This higher purpose ultimately guides us.
If you also are keen to understand how we add value to farmers or how we can transform your agri-enterprise, please get in touch with us now: