Agriculture is an important part of India’s economy with about 58% of the country’s workforce engaged in the sector. Despite agriculture contributing 17% to India's gross domestic product (GDP), farmers face several challenges that limit their productivity—unpredictable weather patterns, limited access to high quality agri-inputs, lack of access to credit, and fluctuating market prices, to name a few.
Amazon Fresh, a single online destination for daily grocery needs, aims to deliver the highest quality fresh produce to customers. To do this, we partnered with farmers through our Amazon Kisan program to buy fresh produce directly from them while also encouraging them to grow better. Started in 2019, Amazon Kisan today has over 8,000 farmers registered in the program with over 3,000 farmers supplying their fresh produce to Amazon’s network of 11 collection centres across the country. Farmers receive fair and competitive prices and swift payments (within five hours). In addition, farmers get access to qualified agronomists who provide customized crop recommendations and assist with scientific nutrition and pest management practices. Farmers can access personalised crop plans on their mobile phones and also raise queries related to their crop and seek support.
“I've been associated with Amazon for three years now. I cultivate various crops such as brinjals, cauliflowers, and cucumbers in my farm and sell them at the Amazon collection centre. The money is credited to my account within five hours. Their Amazon Kisan app has helped me gain a better understanding of crop cultivation. Thanks to Amazon, my household is flourishing, and there have been no roadblocks in my children's education. I feel empowered and highly recommend it to my fellow farmers!” says Swati Sanjay Bhalerao from Kalam, Maharashtra.
“With the technological support provided by Amazon, I have been able to produce 'A' grade quality yield. The overall yield has also improved by 10-15%,” says Vinod Bhalerao, another farmer in Maharashtra.
Technology interventions from farm to fork
"We believe that technological innovations can transform Indian agriculture and dramatically improve the livelihoods of Indian farmers,” says Siddharth Tata, Product Leader, Amazon Fresh and Kisan. “Partnering with farmers has helped us build a 'farm to fork' supply chain that helps us serve the highest quality fresh produce to our customers."
The 'farm to fork' supply chain starts by providing farmers information that helps them improve productivity and quality. Farmers receive day-wise crop growing plans that are pre-configured based on parameters such as soil type and nutrition, crop variety, sowing date, size of farm, and more. Farmers can seek support in the event of poor weather, pest infestations, and disease. When ready for harvest, farmers bring their fresh produce to a nearby Amazon collection centre. The produce is then transported to a processing centre. The fresh fruits and vegetables are then sorted, graded, and packed at the processing centres and dispatched to Amazon Fresh fulfilment centres located closer to customers. The fulfilment centres operate with four separate temperature zones (Ambient, Tropical, Chilled, and Frozen) to maintain the quality and freshness of produce.
Many farmers like Kiran Thorat have begun to give all their good quality produce to Amazon’s collection centres. “The money for our produce is credited into our accounts within hours,” he says.
Getting the word out with community radio
In order to get the word out and help more farmers realize the benefits of the Amazon Kisan program, Amazon India collaborated with three leading community radio channels in Maharashtra—Swaranath Community Radio, Sharada Krishi Vahini, and Radio Vishwas. “After listening to the story of Amazon's initiative through the saga Shetkari on the radio, I visited the local Amazon collection centre and registered myself. Now, I sell my agricultural produce to Amazon and I am pleased with the quick and efficient business process,” says Rohit Yashwant Kale, a farmer from Maharashtra.
"The mission of the program is empower farmers with technology and help them become a part of the digital economy," says Tata, with community radio being an ideal medium to reach them. "These radio channels have a large listener base of farmers as they broadcast content that is popular and relevant in their district. We hope to be able to connect with many more farmers across the country through our initiatives so that they will be able to reap the benefits of such programs,” adds Tata.
Technology is going to transform the agriculture sector and improve the lives and livelihoods of Indian farmers. Amazon India aims to play a part in this transformation by helping farmers grow better while serving customers the highest quality fresh produce. Collaborating with community radio channels has helped us spread the word and engage new farmers who can benefit from Amazon Kisan.