Indian startups initiate movement to digitize dairy farming

Dairy startups Country Delight and Stellapps have employed technologies like internet of things (IoT) and data analytics to boost production and assure an improved quality of milk and widen the base of value-added dairy offerings like cheese, butter, ghee leading to an increase in the productivity and income of farmers.

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Tech startups have initiated a movement to digitize dairy supply chain, improve milk quality and supply chain. Dairy startups Country Delight and Stellapps have employed technologies like internet of things (IoT) and data analytics to boost production and assure an improved quality of milk and widen the base of value-added dairy offerings like cheese, butter, ghee leading to an increase in the productivity and income of farmers.

In India, the dairy sector remains a largely unorganized sector. According to analysts, the Indian dairy industry comprises 300 million herds of cattle spread across 75 million dairy farmers. The smallholder dairy farmers experience a dearth of some important resources like veterinary support, advice on cattle nutrition, access to optimal nutrition and animal health products, transparent markets for trading cattle and, in some cases, market access for their milk. In comparison to this, the private dairy and dairy cooperative have to deal with their struggles chiefly sourcing milk, managing farmer payments, building traceable supply chains, and ensuring quality.

“In the coming years, you should expect to see various dairy-focused agritech startups tackling these problems and building a stronger future for India’s dairy ecosystem,” said Mark Kahn, managing partner, Omnivore, which has backed startups including Stellapps. Stellapps was founded in 2011 when five techie friends from Wipro – Ranjith Mukundan, Ravishankar G, Shiroor Praveen Nale, Ramakrishna Adukuri, and Venkatesh Seshasayee – thought of setting up their startup and observed major problems in the production process of one of the largest consumables in India – milk. It led them to start Stellapps, a farm-to-consumer dairy digitisation service provider that boosted productivity, enhanced quality and ensures end-to-end traceability across the dairy supply chain. “Our major hack has been to cover the entire dairy supply chain. By focusing on the whole dairy supply chain instead of a single node, we were able to unlock more value for each stakeholder. Our products now span all aspects of dairying, as a result of which they are being deployed by every major dairy in India,” says Ranjith.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, Stellapps witnessed a 46% spike month-on-month in its order value, as the number of farmers spiked from 1.98 million to 2.3 million across 30,000 villages in 18 states, 16.6% more than pre-COVID-19 times. Aiding almost 80 million households engaged in milk production and fulfilling a key agenda of the government, this action will play a major role in shaping the post-COVID-19 rural economy.

Gurugram based Country Delight delivers milk and dairy products directly from farmers to customers and has integrated a cold chain to deliver perishables like milk, curd and other dairy products. Country Delight’s team delivers 3 million orders a month across Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru, and has grown 50 times in the last three years. The milk is delivered within 36 hours of milking, bread within 24 hours from baking and eggs delivered within 72 hours of hatching. Other grocery delivery apps that deliver milk, work on a subscription-based model like BB Daily, Supr Daily and MilkBasket, where users order daily needs such as dairy-bakery products, vegetables and other essentials. The latest entrant in this sector is Jio Mart which is said to be testing the service in a few locations.

According to Omnivore’s Kahn, “The biggest challenges facing the dairy ecosystem are all rooted in scarcity—lack of labour, lack of green fodder availability, lack of high-quality cattle genetics. I think these trends will result in more farmers choosing to make dairying a full-time, increasingly professionalized activity, as opposed to a side hustle.”

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