Left His US Job To Start Villa Mart, A Phygital Market In Odisha – Helping Farmers Grow

Organic Farming By Venus Jasuja | 3 min read

Villa Mart - Helping Farmers Grow

India is an agrarian economy, making agriculture the main source of income and a major economic force in the nation. Although the nation’s agricultural output has increased significantly since gaining independence, farmer income has not increased simultaneously due to some fundamental weaknesses in India’s agricultural supply chain.

farmer
Source – Pexels

Have you ever felt a sense of satisfaction on the face of a farmer when he is back after selling his produce? Probably no, despite working diligently to provide food to the nation, farmers working for filling up your bellies are not getting the prices they deserve. They do not even get MSP – Minimum Support Price ( prices guaranteed by the government to protect farmers against excessive falls). This act has come to an action decades ago but is still not implemented fairly.

The primary reason for the exploitation of farmers in India is the presence of various middlemen. Before the produce of farmers reaches the consumers, it passes through various middlemen and commission agents that buy the produce below the MSP from the farmer. Farmers are being paid low for their produce and consumers are charged more and still the quality product doesn’t reach the ultimate consumers.

To combat this problem, Villa Mart embarked on the journey of transforming the supply chain and production efficiency in the agricultural sector. Just like this Agri-tech Startup – Assisting Farmers In Receiving Fair Compensation While Also Uplifting Transgender Communities

Villa Mart

Starting its journey in 2017, Villa Mart wants to improve global health and make the world a healthier place to live in. Villa Mart aims to significantly contribute to raising knowledge of healthy eating practices, increasing people’s awareness of their health, and bringing people closer to nature. Additionally, they estimate consumer wants and needs and invest in the best infrastructure possible.

Villa Mart Logo
Source: Villamart

Villa Mart encourages the consumption of natural and organic foods because they protect the environment, and offer rich nutrition as they are grown without the use of synthetic chemicals like pesticides or fertilizers.

Villamart supports & promotes small farmers who practice chemical-free and organic farming and offer the highest-quality foods at the most competitive prices all over India.

The Journey Of Villa Mart

Dr. Ramesh Chandra Biswal was born and brought into a farmer’s family in Odisha. He embarked upon his career journey as a post-doctorate scientist at Clemson University SC, US after concluding his PhD from IIT Kharagpur in 2015. He was sure of building his career around fuel cells but he was hit by the major issue of farmers’ suicide in 2015-16.

Dr Ramesh Chandra Biswal villamart Framer
Source : Linkedin

After a lot of brainstorming and introspection, his concern for farmers lead him to leave his job in the US and returned to his village in Odisha, and started working on Villa Mart.

How Does It Work?

Founded by Dr. Ramesh Chandra Biswal and co-founded by Gopal Krushna Pradhan, Villa Mart is a mobile market that procures farmer’s produce and sells it to the ultimate consumers at a profitable price. With this setup, farmers have started earning double the income the farmers used to earn before due to the disruptive supply chain.

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Villa Mart is a phygital mobile outlet that accommodates racks, a public address system, an Internet Protocol Camera, Wi-Fi, a light system, a billing system, a solar cell, and most importantly a built-in refrigerator to keep the produce fresh.

farmer
Source: Villamart

Villa Mart possesses artificial intelligence-based sensors for the detection of crop disease and appropriate maturity levels of fresh produce.  It stocks about 300 essential household items and covers 2-5 villages reaching about 400-500 customers daily.

Currently, Villa Mart is operating in a single district but plans to expand to two more districts and further in other states.

Purchase Organic, Natural & Indian Food At Villa Mart

Villa Mart collaborates with regional farmers and suppliers, sourcing only the best foods from reliable vendors, giving them full support, assisting them in promoting sustainable agriculture, giving them access to markets, and ultimately improving the lives of farmers and other producers. Your health and the pockets of farmers, both are major concerns of Villa Mart and they are doing their job right.

Core competency and a solid foundation in traditional farming practices serve as the foundation for Villa Mart. Partnerships with farmers, wholesalers, and transportation providers make logistics simple and convenient.

farmer
Source: Villamart

Empowering Women

Villa Mart is focusing on establishing a robust supply chain for quality agricultural produce. Presently, Villa Mart has directly engaged  4 women employees and 80 women from the SHGs (Self Help Groups). The business model of this startup has made farmers curious and they are willing to learn how it works.

Hitting Two Birds In One Stone

Villa Mart’s revenue model is building a platform/virtual market for farmers and consumers where they can procure raw materials at a lesser price and then sell their products to consumers at profitable prices without the intervention of middlemen thus aiming to protect farmers from exploitation.

Source: Youtube

The fact that this model was created by highly educated and experienced research specialists who were born and raised in rural regions and are familiar with both Indian rural lifestyles and lifestyles in other nations is what distinguishes it from other models.

Road Ahead

Initially, the capital was put in by the founders of Villa Mart but the struggles paid off when Villa Mart was recognized as one of the 10 social enterprises selected by the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge (TSEC).

Afterwards, they received mentoring and funding support from INVENT IIT Kanpur where they incubated at Villgro. The state has also given them a team grant and has been very supportive of them.

Hard work pays off and now many NGOs, individuals, and government organizations are taking interest in acquiring the franchise model of Villa Mart. The team is now looking to onboard new investors for expansion.

If you want to know more about sustainable farming, read about This Man From LEEDS Business School, who UK Left His High Package Job To Start Sustainable Farming

Feature Image Source: Villamart

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