If I'm buying directly from the farmer, why isn't it cheaper?
This concern is genuine. Buying from the farmer directly should be cheaper. But as of today we are a small platform and our numbers are not very big. The cost of logistics is very high at the farmer's end. For example – It would cost the mango farmer the same amount of money to transport 2,000 boxes of mango as it would for 200 boxes of mango, because the cost of hiring a utility truck is the same. Once our order sizes increase and more people join the platform, the farmer's cost to deliver will decrease and he will happily pass that benefit of cost to his consumers.
Also the farmers are always cheaper than most of the so-called organic stores. Expecting the farmer to offer "A-grade" produce at lower than "B" or "C" grade would be asking for too much. So be patient and send us all your encouragement and we will soon be able to get you the produce at a much better price than the market.
What does the farmer make in this business model?
The farmer is the person who sets the retail price for his produce and makes 70-80% of the price you pay. This is why it's truly a farmer's platform. It's the farmer who decides what their hard work is worth, because only they know the quality and taste of their produce.
It goes beyond money, though: the farmers finally get recognition for all the effort they make. The FarmerUncle platform allows them to interact directly with people who buy their produce and enables them to get feedback for what they grow. For the first time, they would be able to know who the final consumer of their produce is. It gives them a sense of pride and responsibility and pushes them to improve their practices.
How does my buying directly from the farmer help me?
Most of the adulteration, artificial ripening, colouring, etc., happens at the middle-man level. They do it for get a higher price for sub-standard produce. In the age of instant gratification, it's the looks that fetch the best price and they go the lengths to make the fruit look nice. It includes using carcinogenic chemicals to ripen the produce, to dipping produce in chemical colour tanks to get the desired colour. Some of the stories are even more horrific and just beyond understanding. The shape or looks of a produce is by no standards a guarantee of its freshness or quality.
When you buy directly from the farmer, it makes him/her accountable for his produce. It ensures that the farmer sends you absolutely fresh produce which is naturally ripened and of superior quality when it comes to taste. The farmer does not want to be blacklisted and thus makes an extra effort to be careful about the produce he sends to FarmerUncle.
Why is FarmerUncle being the good Samaritan when it can certainly make more money being a trader?
The reasons are plenty. Firstly we are farmers ourselves. We have been fighting with the middle-men for decades to get a better price for our produce. More often than not, we end up being fooled and cheated into bargaining to sell our produce for a lower price. There is almost a mafia which controls the price at which the farmer can sell his produce at the mandi (wholesale markets). This has pushed all farmers like us to look out for customers in the city who we can reach directly.
The farmer knows the price the customer pays for his produce in the city and it pains him further to learn what he makes out of it. This needs to change and that is the change FarmerUncle intends to make, without making the customer pay extra for the produce that they consume.
The 70-30 model is a profitable one and we intend to prove it to the world. Our intention is to make it successful so that more and more people are tempted to copy it. At the best of our capability we will not be able to reach even 1% of the entire farming community of this country.
We need more and more people to adopt the model so that more and more farmers are reached. We dream of a world where the farmer is resourceful and satisfied, as he should be, so that he can generate more possibilities for others in his region. A happy farmer is the true sign of a happy country.
How is this platform any different from the so many others online?
Firstly we are not traders. We don't buy from the farmer, stock and sell to you. We are the farmer's representative in the city who helps them reach the customers directly and helps them sell their produce. The platform only works with "Real Farmers": farmers who are progressive, responsible and understand their commitment towards the customers as well as the land they obtain produce from.
In this model, it's the Farmer who sets the price of the produce and makes 70-80% of price you pay. He shares the rest with us for our efforts to reach you. In the traditional models, the farmer makes anywhere between 10% to 20% of what you pay. And thus to increase his produce, he gets into spraying excessive chemicals on his produce.
Now that he gets a better price for his produce, he is willing to share the choicest of his produce, which he generally keeps for his friends and family. And with a promise of delivering Harvest-Fresh produce each time. So the tree-to-table time is less than 3-4 days.
The FarmerUncle platform also encourages the farmer to interact directly with the end-consumer so that he is aware of who is consuming his produce and is accountable for the quality of produce he sends to them. For a customer, it gives them the unique opportunity to know who grows their produce and how.
What is stopping Indian farmers from going organic?
One of the biggest hindrance for the farmer today in going Organic is that he does not have a market to sell his produce. Organic farming is a lot more labour intensive and is a lot more hands-on. Organic produce does not necessarily "look nice". Most of the chemical-induced produce scores a lot more on looks and size, as compared to the produce grown naturally. With the consumer demanding only the best "looking" produce, the farmer ends up getting a lower price for his organically grown produce, making it so much less lucrative for him.
Organically grown produce generally is full on taste and flavour, and once allowed to ripen naturally beats the chemically grown produce hands-down. The natural flavours of the produce are not altered and it's the closest to how nature made it.
The consumer needs to understand the process of organic farming and needs to understand the challenges faced by the farmer when selecting to buy organic produce. Taste should be the factor on which the decision making of the customer should be based on. An increased customer base and a better price for their produce will ensure that more and more farmers move towards responsible farming methodologies.
What kind of farmers are there on FarmerUncle?
Most of the farmers on the platform are young, progressive and responsible farmers. Many of them have left cushy jobs in the city and have gone back to the farming with the knowledge and technical know how, to follow better practices and to increase the yield from their farms. Also with their understanding of the customer's apprehension of eating chemical laden fruit, they have started following practices which are responsible both towards the environment and the consumers.
Also on the platform are traditional farmers who have led by example in their respective areas. They have had the exposure and knowledge of the rapidly changing trends in the food consumption patterns of people and have adequately adapted themselves to meet the demands of their customers and always working towards improving the quality of their produce. A lot of these farmers have been awarded and recognized for their efforts in the farming community.
What is FarmerUncle?
FarmerUncle is an Online Farmer's Market which helps farmers from across the country to sell their produce directly to the end-consumers in the city. The growing customer base ensures that the farmers have a concentrated customer base to whom they can offer their produce. The direct interaction that the platform helps farmers to explain more about their produce, their practices and expected harvest date and procure orders for the same. FarmerUncle gives farmers the ability to set a price for their produce and also decide on minimum order quantity. In turn, the farmer commands 70-80% of the retail price paid by the customer.
FarmerUncle helps the farmers to utilize its last-mile-delivery channel, allowing them to send their produce, harvest-fresh, within a maximum of 4-5 days from the day it is harvested. This ensures that the customer also gets the produce fresh and ready to eat.
In short, FarmerUncle is India's first and only, real, "Farmer to You" model.
What is the difference between Organic Farming and Chemical Residue-free farming?
In Organic Farming, the entire process, right from preparing the soil to fruit-setting to the final produce, is organic in nature. These farms are generally certified by one of the many certifying agencies. The farmers use organic sprays, which are a mixture of neem oil, lassi, cow dung, cow urine, tobacco, etc., which prevents insect infestation. There are also some certified bio-chemicals which are recommended and prescribed, which can be used.
Chemical Residue-Free produce generally has minimal or no traces of chemical on the actual fruit. The farmers use recommended doses of chemicals during fruit-setting stages to save the crop from insect attacks. As sunlight breaks down these chemicals, there is no trace of them on the actual fruit. The produce is tested in labs, which ensures the quality.