In India, where people devour rice as a staple food, diabetic patients and their families are constantly looking for healthier alternatives like quinoa, barley and millet.
Entrepreneur Swosti Mishra is on a mission to help people with diabetes enjoy their rice by offering a healthier, organically grown variety.
It all started four years ago when her mother-in-law was diagnosed with diabetes and was advised to stop eating rice. Swosti noted that she was not enjoying her food.
A little research led her to realize that there are two types of rice available in India: rice grown organically without fertilizers and rice grown solely for commercial purposes.
He says that the rice they bought in the stores was not of good quality.
“The beans were completely polished, full of starch and sugar with little nutritional value. I started receiving organic rice directly from a group of farmers. My mother-in-law has been consuming a fixed amount for years and her glucose level is staying well,” she says. His story.
After a few years of working with farmers and understanding rice farming, in April 2021 he launchedan Odisha-based agritech startup that connects urban consumers directly with rice farmers.
The idea, he says, is not only to help the diabetic population but all households that are looking for a healthy diet.
MyeFarm may be Swosti’s first entrepreneurial venture, but she is not new to India’s startup ecosystem.
Swosti graduated with an MBA from the Regional College of Management in Bhubaneswar and worked at the US Consulate in Hyderabad, where he headed the small and medium women entrepreneurship program in addition to a period of more than a decade in corporate companies such as ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank.
She has also served as executive director of American Indian Entrepreneurs (TiE) Bhubaneshwarformulate strategies and development plans for the organization.
Swosti took the entrepreneurial path after setting out to find quality organic rice for her mother-in-law. During the process, she reached out to local farmers in Odisha, staying in some of their houses and seeing first-hand the difference in their work and processes in the field.
With MyeFarm, he wanted to connect farmers with the health-conscious urban population who might not otherwise have the means to source organic rice directly from farmers.
It launched the business with a subscription model: farmers grow rice on demand on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis, and customers are assured of traceability and quality.
“Customers feel like they are growing the rice for themselves because the farmers are growing it specifically for them,” she says.
The startup has also organized field visits to farms, helping to increase customer trust and loyalty, as well as farmer morale.
“Since the farmers usually sell to the Mandi and don’t know the customers directly, they appreciate this aspect. They feel important and recognized as food growers,” she says.
The process also ensures secure demand and income for farmers; they no longer have to worry about selling and market prices.
MyeFarm earns revenue from subscription charges, while farmers get the full price charged for products sold.
Entrepreneurship never comes without challenges.
In the early years of work, when working with farmers before officially launching MyeFarm, Swosti introduced them and encouraged them to experiment with different methods of organic farming. However, many farmers, stubborn in their ways, wanted to give up.
But things got better as they continued to work together.
Today the D2C boot with boot has developed a network of more than 100 farmers in OdishaWest Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, providing eight varieties of rice to more than 1,000 customers across India.
price between Rs 89 to Rs 300 per kghas delivered more than 1,000 kg of rice so far.
Swosti has invested around 15 lakh rupees in entrepreneurship and also obtained monetary support for farmers through crowdfunding platforms.
While the start-up has yet to take off, the businesswoman is confident the opportunity is promising as India has seen per capita rice consumption as high as 103kg in 2017.
For now, Swosti is working on increasing monthly subscriptions and is exploring B2B partnership opportunities. The startup is also developing an app and in the long term hopes to expand pan-India as the go-to platform with rice as the subscription model.