In a bid to boost farm income and mitigate CO2 emissions, Vimal Panjwani co-founded AgriVijay to bring solar energy-based agricultural solutions for farmers and rural households.
This article has been sponsored by Wingify Earth.
With a vision to boost farm income by cutting down dependency on expensive fossil fuel products and mitigating climate change, Pune’s Vimal Panjwani co-founded AgriVijay – India’s first marketplace of renewable energy products for farmers and rural households.
“Over the years, renewable energy has not penetrated the village level because people are not prescribing it to farmers, who remain unaware of the right solutions,” the 34-year-old CEO tells The Better India.
“Many good technology products are not available in terms of knowledge, availability, and affordability. There was no store if farmers wanted to understand how a solar dryer works or where they can buy such products after demos. Farmers wanting to buy such products are not given financing facilities. At AgriVijay, we solve all these problems,” he adds.
From solar water pumps to solar inverters, biogas digesters, solar water heaters, solar cold storage,, and solar dryers, the startup offers more than 200 types of green energy equipment tailored to farm needs and infrastructure set-up.
The best-selling products include solar water pumps, biogas digesters, solar dryers, solar water heaters, and solar sprayers. Of all products, farmers can also avail government subsidies on solar water pumps and biogas digesters.
Reducing expenses, boosting income
“Solar water pump is our flagship product. It replaces diesel and electricity costs of the farmers. It helps reduce expenses when they want to use the pump for vegetable farming round the clock for 8-10 hours. It can also be run at night, after connecting with grid electricity. Diesel-run and electric water pumps cost up to Rs 25,000 a month. Once you replace it with a solar water pump, it saves Rs 10,000,” he says.
These solar energy-based products also help minimise post-harvest losses and increase the shelf-life of produce. For instance, “If farmers undergo post-farming losses, they could use products like solar dryers and solar cold storages. With solar dryers, they can convert farm losses into dry products like ginger and chikoo to sell into domestic markets or export. With this, they get value addition to produce and increase income by creating a new product category. With these products, farmers are becoming entrepreneurs now.”
So far, the startup has sold more than 500 such products from its 75 renewable energy stores present across Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. “These are small rural retailers already selling seeds and fertilisers to farmers. They show a demo of our products. We are bringing innovations and technologies at the village level,” he adds.
The startup has onboarded more than 300 farmers from across the country including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. Vimal aims to expand the reach to 1,000 farmers through 100 renewable energy stores this year.
A win-win solution
Vimal’s journey to AgriVijay started amid the COVID-19 pandemic when he was looking to switch from his previous job in rural and agricultural space. Having 10 years of experience in building startups for others in agri-tech, the MBA graduate co-founded his own venture along with his mother Shobha Chanchlani in 2020.
“I was looking for a job switch. My mother had also retired as a government employee. She suggested that I build startups for others, so why not for myself? She put her retirement savings into our plan and we launched the startup,” he says.
“We have 1,500 agri-tech startups in the country, but nobody is talking about renewable energy products for agriculture. There was no dedicated marketplace for such products. Besides, we wanted to create a revolution in the age of the current climate crisis and contribute globally to the climate action movement happening as a nation. Hence, I combined renewable energy and agriculture,” he adds.
With their products, the startup claims to have mitigated more than 7,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. “We are a win-win solution for everyone because we are not only helping farmers increase their savings and income but also mitigating climate change,” adds Vimal.
The mother-son duo also built a team of 15 people and expanded its reach across the country. Together they clock an annual revenue of Rs 1.3 crore. Now, they are targeting to include agri-tech products such as drones, soil testing devices, organic fertilisers, and hydrogel.
Edited by Divya Sethu