Startup of the week – SFarmsIndia
| 5 minutes read
Name of the startup – SFarmsIndia
Founded in – 2018
Industry – Agri Realty
Founder -Kamesh Mupparaju
CEO – Kamesh Mupparaju
Startup Motto – An Exclusive Agriculture Land Marketplace
Startup Funding – Closed Pre-seed round.
Startup Market Cap – ₹10 Crore
Who is SFarmsIndia?
SFarmsIndia is India’s first Agri land marketplace, which creates liquidity to buy or sell agriculture lands on a peer to peer basis. SFarmsIndia is an Online web application with two core functions; Listing and Liquidating.
With two core functions; listing and liquidating. These two functions work together, creating a great synergy. Buyers are flexible to buy the smallest fraction of the Agri land called small farms, and also buyers can contact the sellers directly, hence reducing the middle man fee. Sellers can list and liquidate their Agri lands very easily by selling small farms. It’s a peer-to-peer platform; hence no middlemen are involved. Seller financing through the small farms is the primary USP of SFarmsIndia. SFarmsIndia developed a liquidity system specific for small farms and a listing platform exclusively for Agri lands.
How do you come up with the idea of buying/selling the Agri land marketplace?
In India, farmers and agri-realty developers face difficulties selling Agri lands due to a lack of liquidity. Many HNIs in India are interested in investing in agricultural land as an alternative asset but are facing difficulty finding/searching the Agri lands. Software and white collared professionals also intend to buy small farms for weekend farming and fresh farm food, but they find it difficult to buy. Again, people from the mid-income group, though want to invest in agricultural lands, cannot do so due to lack of financing facilities.
I have observed the farmer who is struggling to sell his agricultural land. As it is really challenging to sell his land since the land is located in the village, and the potential buyers were not aware of the sale. The same situation has been observed with some other farmers. Apart from this, brokers are a hindrance in transactions due to non-transparency. Taking all these into account, it occurred that there should be a system in place that helps farmers.
I went through most of the property websites across India. I have observed little or no focus on agricultural land, and there is no platform exclusively for agricultural lands. But in contrast to the traditional property websites, the market is bigger in terms of valuation. After identifying the market, I have got an idea to build an online marketplace for agricultural lands.
What makes your startup different from others in your industry/vertical?
SFarmsIndia creates a unique market, an intersection of Agri tech, Agri realty, and online marketplace to buy and sell Agri lands. At present, there is no liquidity platform to buy/sell Agri lands as most of the existing reality portals are focused on listing urban properties or houses/flats. It’s a peer-to-peer platform; hence no middlemen are involved.
99Acres have a very small number of Agri properties compared to their urban property listings. Their focus only on urban properties.
Kerala’s classified website Helloaddress has a decent number of Agri properties but is covered only in Kerala. Their focus only in Kerala due to their website linked to Kerala’s news daily-Malayala Manorama.
Could you share how SFarmsIndia connects to farmers and agri-realty developers, how the process continues?
With the listing function, buyers can find/search agriculture lands, and sellers can list/post the agriculture lands for sale/lease. It creates liquidity for the buying and selling of Agri lands. Based on the land type and nature, SFarmsIndia categorizes the lands into three types as follows:
- Agri Lands – Agriculture Lands, Non-Cultivated Lands, and Fruit Farmlands
- Estate Lands – Coffee, Tea, and Rubber Estate Lands
- Eco Farms- Ecological Sustainable Farms and Farmhouses
With the liquidity function, Agri lands are divided into the smallest divisible fractions called small farms. The Agri reality developers can liquidate their big land parcels by means of these small farms. Each Agri land is assigned with a seller contract and divided into 5 to 8 fractions per acre. The buyers are flexible to buy these fractions. This enables medium to small income groups to acquire lands easily.
Being a startup, could you share with us one of your most challenging situations, and how did you push through?
Most of the farmers and Agri-realty developers are not tech-savvy to list their listings on our web platform directly. We found technology adoption for sellers in villages as the biggest challenge in taking our product into the market. Hence, we made an alternative arrangement via WhatsApp listing. For this, we provided a customer care number on WhatsApp for the sellers to talk to our team in their language of choice and get assistance in listing their property on the platform. Our content editors would list on behalf of the sellers. This helped overcome the listing problems, and slowly, the listing numbers started picking up.
What is your strongest point?
Small farms, through land contracts, are the primary USP of SFarmsIndia. SFarmsIndia developed a liquidate system specific for Agri land assets and a listing platform exclusively for Agri lands. Most of the big land banks/land parcels in India are barren lands, which are non-cultivated lands, and most of the farmers in India hold small farms that are cultivated and quite the opposite of the western countries. The small farms are productive in nature, and our company’s main objective is to convert barren lands into produce lands. So the name SFarmsIndia means Small Farms in India.
How do you manage to offer cost-effective Agri land?
Buyers are flexible to buy the smallest fractions of the Agri land, and buyers can contact the sellers directly; hence the huge margins will be nullified. Sellers can list and liquidate their Agri lands very easily by offering small farms. It’s a peer-to-peer platform; hence no middlemen are involved.
What are SFarmsIndia’s future plans?
The size of the Agri land market in India is around $15 billion per annum. Around 3 million transactions happened in FY18-19, and close to 95% of these transactions happened via middlemen.
There has been a countrywide spike in the price of agricultural land due to a variety of reasons. All of India’s farmland was valued at over $2 trillion in 2010, and it has grown to about $10 trillion today. To put this figure into perspective, it is larger than the value of all the gold ever mined.
SFarmsindia is an early-stage startup, but the aforementioned statistics show that there exists a demand for Agri realty. We have the opportunity to tap at least 30% of the transactions happening through our platform. The performance will be improved further over the next decade due to strong demand-supply fundamentals.
We will come up with a mobile app like Zillow in 2021 March. By this, buyers can find the Agri land nearby.