Triggering changes from the grassroots: NetBramha + SeedWorks
Disrupting world’s 2nd largest agriculture ecosystem
India, a largely agri-based economy with almost 49% of the working population employed in agriculture & related sectors, is the home to 180 million+ farmers who are caught up in the vicious loop of unscientific approach to farming, poor disease management, & a resulting poor crop yield.
The current landscape of information propagation to the farmers is limited to a few players in the market, none of whom provide customized & contextual information to the farmers, step-by-step support for their specific needs. Be it the handful of government bodies dedicated for farmer support (kisaan call centres) or other data-intensive agritech platforms – from the average Indian farmer’s perspective, none of these platforms are of much help because of three main reasons.
- The information is generic, doesnt cater to the specific needs/problems of the farmers
- The information is complex & jargon-y; farmers are not able to understand those
- The access to the information is tough ; stark absence of user-friendly platforms
What is SeedWorks?
SeedWorks is a plant-science company engaged in research, production, and marketing of hybrid seeds such as cotton, millet, rice, mustard, etc. Its aim is to provide superior seed solutions by harnessing the latest tech and innovation to make agriculture both sustainable and profit-driven.
SeedWorks partnered with NetBramha Studios to build a robust digital solution that blends seamlessly into an average farmer’s life, providing end-to-end support to the farmers, making crop production more reliable & efficient.
The immersive agritech research process : Getting to the grassroots
NetBramha conducted a massive user research undertaking to get to the grassroots of the problems faced by Indian farmers, by interviewing 700+ farmers (face-to-face), from 50 villages spread across 9 Indian states, spending a total of 18 days travelling across the lengths & breadths of the country. This painstaking process unearthed a deluge of information, breaking several key assumptions about the tech-savviness of Indian farmers.
How were Indian farmers using the internet & smartphones?
- Almost all villages had 4G internet connection
- Heavy internet usage – daily 1.5 GB data used
- WhatsApp, YouTube used for entertainment (avg 3-4 hours everyday)
- Very few used Internet /technology for farming
- Heavy usage of voice feature
Current agritech landscape: How tech savvy is the average Indian farmer?
- Most farmers blindly followed other farmers who had achieved good crop yield without taking into account contextual factors such as type of crop, soil quality, disease management, & more.
- Most farmers never had soil testing done
- Many remained a victims of false/misleading information by govt officials, biased middlemen, & company representatives
- Farmers hardly trusted Google or any other online weather reports
- There was a great deal of trust in the advice of village elders & they often ignored distributors
- All-in-all they were receptive to new idea for a farmer support app
What key problems was this agritech solution trying to solve?
Lack of personalized information
No platform that provides tailor made information & support to farmers for their specific needs. The current players in the market do offer a plethora of information but those are extremely generic, with a lot of technical jargon. Negligible help offered by these in terms of complete farming solutions across the crop lifecycle.
Dependency on unorganized resources
Most farmers blindly followed the techniques of other farmers who had achieved a high crop yield, without any regards to contextual differences. Many had even been giving wrong information from govt representatives on type of soil & suitable crops. Only 28% farmers used the Kisaan call centers and a whopping 96% sought help from their peers, neighbors, & elders. Even though farmers were comfortable using the internet, they hardly used it for farming information & support.
Lack of engaging platforms for farmers
Out of the 3 main platforms for farmers, one provided generic & jargon-y information, Govt-run call centers ask a multitude of questions before offering help that too where the information provided would be largely scattered and confusing, and one though has a good vernacular design, it fails to provide the basic criteria, i.e., contextual & relevant information. None of these platforms could keep farmers engaged, interested & involved in crop production throughout the crop life cycle.
High diversity across languages, crops
India is a country of 22 languages & more than 450 dialects. Indian farmers grow 160+ major types of crop, 25 domesticated crop varieties, & 18,000 species of higher plants. The soil quality, humidity, rainfall, terrain, climate, irrigation resources, & other factors remain largely diversified. There are more than 200 million farmers in India cultivating a diverse range of crops across 3 major crop seasons. Owing to such towering multiplicity in agricultural factors, it was necessary to have a single platform that accommodates these wide ranging needs.
No single platform that caters end-to-end support
Severe paucity of single point farmer support platform. Govt-run call centres offered call/chat services but only for specific questions, not for the complete crop life cycle. Others offered a wide range of information but missed out on contextual & relevant information that helped the farmers with their specific needs. Similarly, other platforms too failed when it came down to rendering end-to-end agriculture help to farmers under one roof.
How did the SeedWorks App bridge this gap?
By creating a comprehensive platform for farmers that was designed keeping these distinct farmer needs and behaviour at its core. SeedWorks took into consideration the need for instant gratification and absence of engaging platforms to create an app with robust gamification features and highly personalized crop calendar.The gamification of the app was designed to reward the farmers only when they used the app to better their yield.
Crop calendar is a one-of-a-kind feature that is designed to handhold the farmer throughout the crop lifecycle. It packs a thoroughly personalized experience for the farmer by providing customized step-by-step farming instructions that are tailored to suit his specific needs.
Every time a farmer clicks a picture of his crop and uploads it, he gets points. Every week a report card is generated based on these points. The crop calendar educates a farmer on better farming techniques by giving incentives to him everytime he takes an action towards improving their yield. A feature that makes every farmer believe that it’s designed “just for me”
SeedWorks is built on patterns similar to those of YouTube and TikTok, the most popular platforms among farmers. With strong visual cues rather than textual information, amicable conversational tone, and voice feature as a constant across all platforms, SeedWorks is the true ally of farmers -bettering the nation truly from the grassroot level.
What makes SeedWorks a true (& much needed) agritech innovation in the current times?
Key features of the App
#1. Crop calendar
The crop calendar feature will handhold the farmer throughout the entire lifecycle of a crop by providing him with tips, advice and personalized tasks to help him increase his proﬁts and improve yield.
Gamiﬁcation is a technique where gameplay elements are inserted in non-gaming settings so as to enhance user engagement with a product or service. By weaving suitably fun features such as leaderboards and badges into an existing system, we can tap users’ intrinsic motivations so they enjoy using it.
#3. Buy a seed online
E-commerce app within the SeedWorks App that provides personalized seed recommendations based on farmer’s location, harvesting calendar, types of grain, etc and showing best deals & offers for buying seeds.
#4. Mandi Prices
Based on the farmer’s location, the app will show the exact government-run mandi rates. The farmers can also update the prices here dynamically.
Accurate weather forecasts including humidity, chances of rainfall, temperature, & other related information, where the farmers also can also update the weather conditions of their location, & earn points.
#6. Seed & Community feed
A social-media like platform made just for the farmers for sharing farming best practices, recommendations, advice, & related information through a variety of communication channels including images, voice messages, & text.
SeedWorks – An agritech app with a VR- view
Even though AR/VR technology is still in its nascent stages, particularly in the Indian context, the VR-powered SeedWorks App takes agritech miles ahead in terms of innovation by introducing an average Indian farmer to the power of this technology by
- Providing close to physical experience (akin to teleporting)
- Visual representation of different techniques, stages , best practices of farming
- Educate farmers on better crop management
The entire VR setup has been created keeping in mind the unique behavioral patterns, lifestyle, tech savviness, openness to new technologies of the farmers. Contextual adoption of VR for Indian farmers through SeedWorks App is accompanied by strategic application of voice tech, storytelling elements, effective sound design, simplified navigation, & similar related elements that make VR convenient, interactive and intuitive.
SeedWorks App – The true dost of Indian farmers
Watch the complete design case study video here: