Growing up in Chamrajnagar, a small town in Karnataka, Srinidhi CV's earliest memories were of his father toiling away in the fields to make ends meet.
"I saw hardship and concluded that agriculture was unsustainable," he says. "I was convinced that I'd be anything but a farmer."
Recession in the IT sector compelled Srinidhi to take to agriculture and natural farming. His first harvest was that of bananas. But he quickly learned that the middlemen he sold to only paid him a third of the retail price, which wouldn’t even cover the expenses he had incurred, let alone bring him profits.
Encouraged by discussions with other farmers, Srinidhi began to sell his produce directly to consumers in Bengaluru, Mysore and a few cities near the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border.
"Customers recommended me to their extended families and friends and as my consumer base grew, I saw I needed to stay in touch with repeat buyers as well as the new ones who came in through references. That's when I began using WhatsApp extensively. WhatsApp was often the first point of interaction with the customers," he says.
WhatsApp eliminates middlemen and enables higher returns for farmers
By staying in constant touch with his customers, Srinidhi not only expanded his customer base but was also able to understand their preferences and provide customized solutions.
Srinidhi says leveraging tech-enabled communication channels like WhatsApp not only eliminates middlemen and enables higher returns for farmers, it also helps them easily engage in direct selling.
Srinidhi says, "If I were to sell through retail stores, I would not know my consumers and have fewer chances for cross-selling while also having to part with a percentage of my profit."