Empowering farmers through digital commerce

In an era where digital transformation is reshaping industries across the globe, agriculture is getting the right exposure. The Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC), a body under the agriculture ministry, has embarked on a transformative journey to bolster the presence of Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs) in the international arena.                                    

Their partnership with Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) India, a renowned global player in data and analytics, is paving the way for small farmers to access digital commerce and extend their reach beyond borders.

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Image Credit: Pixabay

The intersection of digital technology and agriculture is driving transformative changes in the sector, and recent developments exemplify this trend. The Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) has embarked on a groundbreaking partnership with Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) India, aiming to empower Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs) with advanced digital commerce capabilities.

This move reflects the government’s commitment to leveraging digital platforms to connect farmers and producers with broader markets and opportunities, ultimately enhancing the agricultural landscape in India.

FPOs partner with D&B India for global expansion                                      

Under the collaboration of SFAC, an entity under the agriculture ministry, has joined hands with D&B India, through this collaboration a unique nine-digit (D-U-N-S) number, an internationally recognized standard for tracking companies and their activities, has been assigned to 1392 FPOs that are part of the government’s nationwide e-commerce platform known as the ONDC.

The D-U-N-S numbers offer valuable insights into these organizations’ structures and financial performance. While currently, these numbers are being provided to FPOs at no cost, D&B India plans to offer additional value-added products and services at a discounted rate to these farmer-owned entities.

Since FPOs integrated into the ONDC platform in April 2023, they have collectively sold an impressive 3,100 varieties of value-added agricultural products across 28 states. The agriculture ministry’s target is to onboard 10,000 FPOs onto the pan-India digital marketplace by March 2024, positioning ONDC as a government-backed alternative to global e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart for supporting small enterprises.

Digital transformation boosts FPOS’ global market access

The integration of FPOs into D&B’s database is expected to facilitate their expansion into international markets, as global buyers often refer to this database when seeking suppliers. Sanjeev Gautam, Director at SFAC, notes that this move will allow global buyers to source a wide array of unique agricultural products from FPOs, thereby supporting these farmer collectives in building business credibility and gaining access to global markets.

SFAC is in discussions with D&B to leverage their next-generation business analytics services called ‘Hoover’ to enhance the sales of products offered by farmer-owned organizations. Currently, D&B’s data cloud is utilized by 0.25 million global and domestic customers for making informed business decisions.

The results of this digital transformation are already apparent, with two FPOs that have listed catalogs on ONDC servicing 1500 orders each in just a few months, and six collectives receiving over 1000 online orders. These FPOs are offering a diverse range of raw and processed food items, including more than 100 varieties of rice, various types of floral honey, and pollen, effectively connecting farmers directly with consumers through the platform.

ONDC empowers FPOs for digital growth

ONDC plays a pivotal role in supporting and training FPOs, offering free registration, assisting in developing and digitizing product catalogs, generating shipping labels, identifying delivery partners, and facilitating digital payments. The network hosts over 30 digital applications, including Mystore, PayTM, Maginpin, and Delhivery, covering intercity logistics, a platform for buyers and sellers, and more.

In April 2022, the government launched ONDC as a section 8 company established by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. For FPOs, this digital network opens doors to direct digital marketing, online payments, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer transactions, and encourages local value addition, catalyzing growth in rural logistics.

Farmers are now urging the government to extend its support to FPOs, enabling them to sell their products on the Government e-Marketplace portal, which is used for public procurement by central and state government agencies. This step would further enhance the reach and impact of FPOs in the marketplace.

Conclusion

The collaboration between SFAC and D&B India is a compelling story of leveraging data and technology to empower the backbone of our agricultural landscape—small farmers. The integration of FPOs into the digital realm through the Open Network for Digital Commerce is not just a milestone; it’s a promise of growth, global exposure, and sustainable agriculture.

As these farmer collectives expand into international markets, they bring with them rich diversity of agricultural products from various corners of India. It’s a win-win scenario, where farmers gain recognition, consumers access unique products, and the world appreciates the flavors of Indian agriculture. With the government’s ongoing support and the potential of platforms like the Government e-Marketplace, we’re likely to witness the blossoming of countless success stories in the agricultural sphere.

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