When school friends Mayank Dhanuka and Sunoor Kaul — also classmates at IIT Delhi — left high-flying investment banking careers in the US and returned to India in 2009, they looked at various businesses that they could venture into. What finally caught their attention — post-harvest management, a grassroots problem that haunts the Indian agricultural sector — was a far cry from what they were doing in the US. They decided to solve the huge gap in post-harvest management services by removing inefficiencies across the agri chain. This included addressing issues with a host of operations such as warehousing, logistics, procurement, collateral management and quality testing that would not only make the process more productive but also ensure better prices for farmers.
In 2010, the duo decided to start Origo Commodities India to do just that. “It was clear that the sector was ripe for some disruption since most of it was unorganised. By straddling these services together, we can help build a more efficient supply chain,” says Mayank Dhanuka, founder, Origo Commodities.
Origo is one of the latest entrants in this space. A bunch of organised players such as StarAgri, Sohanlal Commodity Management (SLCM), National Collateral Management (NCML) and Shubham Logistics are already a couple of years into the game, offering these services while leveraging the existing warehousing infrastructure to offer better storage facilities to farmers. These companies have been working on cutting through the various levels of middlemen by procuring agricultural products directly from farmers on behalf of processors, traders and government bodies, thereby ensuring better prices for farmers.
They provide an entire spectrum of warehouse-management, transportation and port-handling services and help farmers transport goods from mandis and warehouses to their processing centres. By delivering a host of services on a single platform, these companies make it easier for corporate clients to source from them, instead of dealing with multiple entities for each service. As for the farmer, he does not have to worry about lugging his produce to various locations.
In a country where millions go hungry every day, 10% of produce goes waste due to inefficient or insufficient storage. India is one of the largest prod