Our Foods Targets To Decentralise Food Processing Units
Agritech startup is a way to increase farmers' income and disrupt the whole sector. Bala Reddy, Founder and CEO, Our Foods talked with us about the emerging ecosystem and the inception story of the brand and its future growth plans as well
India was considered to be an agricultural-dominated country however after the industrial revolution and the service sector rise there has been some sort of decline in agriculture as an occupation. A few reasons could be uncertainty, dependence on climate change, low profitability and more. The Jio internet revolution and the Covid pandemic changed the whole scenario.
As per Census 2011, conducted by the Registrar General of India, the total number of agricultural workers in the country has increased from 234.1 million (127.3 million cultivators and 106.8 million agricultural labourers) in 2001 to 263.1 million (118.8 million cultivators and 144.3 million agricultural labourers) in 2011. However, the share of the workforce engaged in the agriculture sector (comprising of cultivators and agricultural labourers) has come down from 58.2 per cent in 2001 to 54.6 per cent in 2011.
Many entrepreneurs introduced and disrupted different industries such as education, financial, real estate known as Education tech, Financial tech, Property tech respectively and many more. One of these sectors is Agriculture tech known as Agri-tech, these kinds of startups are considered to be the disruptors as they try to bring change in the conventional method in which farmers used to deal while selling their yield. To know more we have an interaction with, Bala Reddy Founder and CEO, Our Foods.
Tell us about the inception? What was the core idea behind Our Foods?
I come from a farmer's family and while working in the fields I got to know about it and also why farmers do not get remunerative prices for their crops. The main reason behind this is that they are selling to middlemen and in raw form which is not usable for the end consumer.
What are the major challenges you are facing currently?
The biggest problem in the initial phase was to design the proper equipment, we priced our processing unit at a very low price, manufacturing was a big problem and another was the loan for farmers to buy our machine as it costs about three lakh.
What are your next big plans for the next 2-3 years?
Our major plan is to set up our own distribution centre. We will be building our centres all over India that will be closer to our processing units. Our processing unit needs to be micro-managed so that the processed material could be brought to a small distribution centre and then we can do further processes.
What is the company's funding status?
We have raised $6 million as of now and we are planning to raise $40 million.
How are you as an entrepreneur finding this startup ecosystem evolving?
We find the startup ecosystem really good and with the help of the ecosystem, we got a lot of support. We solved the problems of funding the franchise through financing by banks. Many veterans are also supporting us and advising as well.
How do you deal with the farmer’s heavy dependence on climate change?
Climate change is the reason why we are present in 12 different states because if a crop fails in one location the other locations would be able to supply the required raw material, if we take black gram and green gram for example last year the supply was low in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh but we got it from other states. We can’t do anything with the climate. So, we have to mitigate our risk by being present in other locations.
Do you have any plans to market your products through partnerships with any retail chain?
We tried to partner with other retail brands but the store space was very costly so we launched our own brand and that is moving really well.