Bill Gates in his recent 2012 Annual Letter announced that he is now focusing on revolutionizing farming. He is looking to fund and scale innovations in the area of agriculture and has already allocated 2 billion dollars for this. His aim is to help poor farm families by encouraging innovation in farming, ranging from education and boosting productivity to sustainable land management and connecting them to functioning markets. Green Basics, a startup in India is working in exactly this space.
Green Basics is working with paddy farmers in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India to help boost production through mechanization and optimization. They offer integrated services to farmers – providing high quality seeds, cultivating saplings, mechanized transplantation of the saplings from the nursery to field and post transplantation care. Green Basics charges around Rs 3000 (approx $60) for their services. Their customers are typically small landholders, owning 1-2 acres of land. So far the response from the farmers has been great, they are more than happy to pay for their services as the ROI is great. Farmers benefit from increased savings, not having to be pay for the seeds and labor, topped with 20% increase in production.
Ramana Killi, the founder of Green Basics has a deep understanding of agriculture, due to his personal and professional background. He comes from a farming village in Andhra Pradesh and has studied agriculture. From an early age he has been interested in optimizing farming, after completing his Masters in Social Entrepreneurship from India’s renowned Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Ramana set-out to launch Green Basics in 2011. They have so far worked with over 300 paddy farmers, ploughed over 250 acres of land and trained 2500 farmers on seed multiplication.
Ramana is really fired up from this initial success and looking to expand fast. He has plans to cover the entire paddy growing region of Andhra Pradesh and then expand to the rest of India. In addition, he plans to provide training to farmers and establish farmers clubs to stimulate information exchange. He also has plans to build mobile apps for farmers to access crucial information regarding crop performance and treatment. Ramana has already got onto implementing some of these with the support from India’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). With NABARD’s financing, Green Basics has trained over 2500 farmers on seed multiplication and have provided tablets to 40 farmers clubs that they have established so far across 40 villages.
Though Green Basics is just starting up, they are already generating revenue and has received recognition for helping marginal farmers. They were the national winners in the “iDiya” social entrepreneurship competition, organized by the Indian School of Business and have recently been selected as the finalist for the Unreasonable Institute. Ramana is now trying to raise $10,000 in order to get accepted for the Unreasonable Institute 2012 program.
Unreasonable Institute is a social startup accelerator based in Colorado, US, which helps entrepreneurs with mentorship, exposure and capital to grow their ventures. If you are excited by the work Green Basics is doing in India, do support them by sponsoring whatever amount you are comfortable on the Unreasonable Institute Marketplace
Though Bill Gates is still to spot Green Basics but in the meanwhile their entry into Unreasonable Institute might just accelerate the process.