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Global digital payment solutions leader BPC and its SME marketplace, SafalFasal, have supported more than 75,000 Covid-hit farmers across India by offering technological and financial solutions to help the farm sector keep food and supply chain rolling, during and after the lockdown phase. The company has successfully extended formal financing to the farming industry by creating an easy credit line via NBFCs.
With the COVID-19 exposing new vulnerabilities on the agriculture sector, crops and livestock prices, vital advice and mentoring are being extended from multiple institutions backing SafalFasal, including Tanager, Bayer, Coromondal, Greaves and other reputed domestic and international players. These relationships have helped farmers match with buyers and ecosystem partners and create contingency plans.
SafalFasal provides linkage to credit providers and also serves as a platform to access suppliers and trade with merchants and distributors, in an end-to-end ecosystem. BPC has shared pilot phase results run between January 1, 2020 and March 31, from this new digital platform, which showcases how SafalFasal has helped Indian farmers. Working with ICICI Bank, as well as microfinance institutions and P2P lenders, SafalFasal provides farmer producer organisations (FPOs) and retailers with instant access to digital finance to support farmers previously excluded from the formal economy and immediately pay them for their produce. Over time, FPOs build a financial profile that enables more accurate credit scoring, improving the rate for them, while reducing the risk for the lender.
The platform has already seen US$64,000 in transactions, exceeding target by 150 percent. SafalFasal has enabled access to business credit to farmer producer organisations to make immediate payment to farmers for their produce thereby easing the financial needs of farmers.
“In the last three weeks of the pilot we had to act fast with the unexpected challenge of COVID-19,” said Debarshi Dutta, EVP and Global Head of SafalFasal.
“Reinforcing our mission, SafalFasal was able to provide farmers with invaluable guidance to overcome the new challenges facing them including a broken supply chain. Farmers know they are not alone when they are a part of the Marketplace. Our model has proven to be a lifeline to help farmers digitalise their services at a time when online purchasing and payments have accelerated dramatically,” Dutta added.
SafalFasal has facilitated food security by educating farmers on how they can ensure business continuity while not exposing themselves to the virus. The team at SafalFasal has also been focused on gathering all requirements for the next sowing season for inputs and preparing the ground for credit support, so that the marketplace is able to weather the impact of the pandemic.
In addition to this, it is also helping farmers prepare for the post-confinement rise in demand, by working with all ecosystem players to ensure an agile plan is in place to strategically deliver produce to their destination using multiple shipping methods and locations.
The closed-loop trading environment forges critical market linkages, by also serving as a digital trading platform for farmers to market their goods to local merchants and distributors. Access to credible advisors including Tanager, Bayer, Coromondal, Greaves and other domestic and international players provides farmers with guidance and negotiating power to guarantee they can sell crops at the optimum price and repay their loans.
“Farmers form the backbone of India’s economy yet many of them – including women farmers – are invisible to banks, credit organisations and buyers, said Jane Loginova, COO at BPC. “The SafalFasal Marketplace model puts farmers on a level playing field with the whole agricultural value chain, giving them a voice, negotiating power and financial access to the real economy,” Loginova added.
The ambition for SafalFasal is to geographically expand India to 200,000 farmers and achieve US$33 million in transaction value in the financial year 2020-2021. Using BPC’s SME Marketplace solutions, the wider mission is to positively impact the lives of 10 million producers across the globe within the next five years.
BPC and SafalFasal are calling for financial institutions, investors and partners to collaborate to gain new access to untapped markets in India and beyond.