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The Last Mile Problem of Rural India

How many delivery boys do you encounter in your day to day life?

Let me tell you about mine as of yesterday – Amazon delivered a parcel for me in the morning, then in the afternoon Swiggy delivered my lunch. In the evening I reached home to receive grocery from BigBasket and finally, Zomato delivered my dinner. Our lives have been so simplified by the advent of technology and it has become so easy to get things at your doorstep.

Now, imagine a village some 50 km away from the city center. A farmer wants to buy seeds for his farm and a few crop solutions that are needed to nourish and protect his existing crop. He may get only a few of these supplies in his village and for the rest, he has to do a 100 km round trip.

This is the reality for millions of farmers across agrarian India. While it is not easy being a farmer anywhere in the world, but in India, it is particularly difficult due to the slow pace of tech reaching the rural areas, lack of awareness about good farming practices, adulteration of medicines and many more grave reasons.

This is where AgroStar has been playing a crucial role in changing the landscape of agriculture by being one of the key pioneers of AgriTech in India since 2014. Today, we have solved the key problems of farmers that of inaccessibility of good quality agri inputs that are required for their farms. How?

We created an Ecosystem that enables the procurement of quality and in-demand inputs from the most reputed agri brands across the country. We then made it available to farmers on our platform, through our unique missed call based system and our free app on the Playstore. Today, our platform ensures that farmers get the necessary agri inputs at their doorstep, with ease and when they need it. What channel did we use?

Well, going with the brick and mortar model was definitely not feasible with the limited reach, a high cost attached and farmers would still have to travel to reach the store. We thought of the channel which had maximum reach in Indian villages – India Post.

India Post today has the maximum reach as the last mile channel in India. They cover even the remotest of the villages and so they were the ideal partners to support our reach and doorstep delivery solution.

We partnered with the India Post headquarters in Gujarat and started shipping products to customers by leveraging the extensive network of Postmen. We shipped thousands of products and processed hundreds of orders, making things fall into a rhythm.

Our customers, the farmers loved the fact that they were getting good quality products at their doorsteps that too with a “Pakka bill”. Their joy knew no bounds. Their gratitude and love started flowing in and we were relieved that the partnership with India Post was working, thanks to the dedication and hard work of hundreds of postmen.

As our last mile delivery through India Post went on, a few months later we realized that even though we were able to send the products to the farmers’ doorstep, they were not reaching on time. A lot of farmers were returning our products because, by the time the products reached him/her, their need for the product was no longer there – they would buy the same product from a local store to tend to their ailing crop.

Unlike the normal e-commerce set up, where a delay in the delivery (of the majority of the items listed) would cause a discomfort to the customer, in our set up even a single day delay in delivery could cause a major financial loss to the farmer. This problem statement compelled us to go back to the drawing board to find a better and faster way to deliver products to our customers. How did we enhance our solution?

Stay tuned for the next post from my side!

Author: Jolly Singh, Product Manager

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