While aiding in the relief work after the Chennai floods in 2015, brothers Vijay and Vasanth Kumar Mani made an observation that was a great potential to create a business out of it. They noticed that the urban people do have a lot of respect for farmers and villagers but are unable to reach out to the proper people or help them out. That was when the idea for creating an agricultural model to connect them sparked.
"We realised the need for working capital among small farmers. They have smaller lands and can’t afford machines and needed equipments. This lack of money to buy technology forces them to acquire debts which also results in suicides. We want to help them with the needed working capital and agriculture assistance," begins Vasanth. With about 10 members in the team of ISF, all agriculture graduates, they also give technical assistance to all the farmers’ doubts.
Expounding about how urbanites come into the picture, Vasanth shares, "The model works as follows. People from the cities can invest their money in different kinds of crops or poultry they choose and also pick how many acres they want. Their money gets converted into working capital like machinery like tractors, transplanters, seeds, manure and more. We at ISF are there with the crops constantly monitoring, giving the needed advice and equipments. After the crop yield the profit is shared among all three parties! Depending upon the risk factor involved in the crop yield, the ratio of profit sharing is split. The higher the risk, the more the profit for the investor."
There is an option for the investors to receive monetary benefit after selling the yield in the market, or receive the bulk of the produce itself or a mix of both. With the farms in the districts of Madurai, Vilupuram, Cuddalore and Virudhunagar, ISF works in about 250 acres of land, with 150 farmers and more than 60 investors. Cognizant’s ex Vice-Chairman Lakshminarayanan is one of the notable investors with ISF. Also venturing into dairy farming, poultry and aqua culture ISF wants to help create a farmer to farmer bond too.
Their monitoring option is the highlight which boosts confidence to every urbanite who invests. "We send them the everyday progress of the crops. We are working on a platform where the investors will have a login ID through which they can see pictures of their farm, the farmers working for them, the progress of the crop, how much they have invested in what crop, the monetary benefits they receive and more details! We want it to be like a share market e-platform, Vasanth adds. Stating that everyone can be a part of farming, which will contribute to viewing the occupation with a better perspective, Vasanth concludes by saying, "Everyone is a farmer. Even if you can’t be on the field, you can support a farmer through ISF."