The Andhra Pradesh government and US global payments company Mastercard on Wednesday (September 13) announced that the launch of a mobile app called e-Rythu (e-farmer in Telugu) to streamline the agricultural sector in the state. The app seeks to connect stakeholders in the agricultural supply chain — buyers, farmers, and agents — on a single platform to offer an easy and secure way of trading agricultural products via their feature phones.

Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu launched the app in the city of Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh.

With its commercial launch expected soon, the platform will be first implemented by Tamil Nadu-based fresh produce supply chain company Lawrencedale Agro Processing India Ltd (LEAF) and four farmers producers organisations (FPOs) based in the cities of Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam.

The platform has been developed by Mastercard Labs for Financial Inclusion in Nairobi, Kenya, and has been customised for usage in India by the Mastercard Labs team based at Pune. The app aims to reach 1 Mn horticulture and agriculture farmers and over 300 farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in the state.

Due to the small scale of production of individual farmers and long distances from the places they sell, most small and medium farmers in Andhra Pradesh suffer income losses. Additionally, since these farmers do not have a formal credit history, it is difficult for them to access any formal financial services.

The vernacular language-based e-Rythu platform is built to connect small-scale farmers looking to sell their produce with the right buyers enabling them to receive the best possible prices.

“Mastercard is glad to extend its partnership with the Andhra government to introduce e-Rythu, a digital solution that will help farmers deal with the challenges of receiving the optimum price for their produce and gaining access to the marketplace,” Mastercard South Asia division president Porush Singh was cited as saying.

Mastercard Labs has taken a similar initiative — 2Kuze — in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Further, the Labs aims to reach approximately 1 Mn smallholder farmer households in East Africa over the next five years, according to an official statement.

e-Rythu: Digitising Lives Of Farmers

Chiranjiv Choudhary, the commissioner of state horticulture department, said the platform will make horticulture markets more transparent for sellers, buyers, and other stakeholders, and will pave the way for financial inclusion of millions of small and medium farmers in the state.

A quick rundown on how e-Rythu will help farmers:

  • Farmers will be given direct access to markets via the e-Rythu platform
  • They will be able to discover the best prices of crops and receive payments online for the produce they sell
  • The platform creates a digital transactions history and will enable allow farmers to receive formal credit from banks and other financial institutions

Recently, the state government signed an agreement with agritech startup Gastrotope to create a ‘Farm-to-Fork’ ecosystem, an acceleration programme organised in Visakhapatnam to provide an adequate infrastructure, such as test fields for agriculture, and an incubation space for startups.

The Economic Survey estimated that Andhra Pradesh foodgrains production in 2016–17 was 156.85 lakh tonnes and oilseeds production was 24.62 lakh tonnes, an increase of 9.09% and 12.9% respectively from the previous year.

Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood in India. According to IBEF report, India is among the 15 leading exporters of agricultural products in the world, yet one-fifth of the Indian households primarily engaged in farming live below the poverty line.

However, efforts to uplift the sector are growing with more startups coming up with innovative solutions. The Andra Pradesh government’s initiative to launch a digital platform to connect farmers with buyers is certainly going to be a big boost to agriculture in the state. The processing network of Mastercard will enable the state to develop a cashless agricultural ecosystem.

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