Small is beautiful: How micro SaaS can fast track agricultural digitization by 10x

Shamolie Oberoi   /    Content Marketing Specialist    /    2022-05-02

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The biggest digitization successes of our times have come through SaaS. Be it Salesforce for sales, HubSpot for marketing or Slack for remote and async work - the idea is that a large enough SaaS product that cross-cuts various industries can change the paradigm in previously laggard spaces. However, one place where it breaks down is agriculture. Agricultural digitization is on the agenda for policymakers as well as businesses but the key here is to go small rather than go big and go home. 

Let’s meet micro SaaS. 

A new crop of companies  is throwing out the rulebook and turning popular notions on their head. Termed ‘micro SaaS’, these businesses are run by one person or a small team, and they:

  • Create niche products for a very specific segment or for very specific needs 

  • Create products that complement an existing SaaS offering 

It’s this specialized nature that makes micro SaaS especially effective in sectors like agriculture, that have distinct requirements calling for customized solutions. When deployed effectively, it can boost productivity and profits while optimizing use of resources such as water and pesticides. 

As a result, the possibilities of micro SaaS in the agricultural sector are endless. Let’s look at some of the more interesting use cases:

Farm and crop-level solutions

Farm management software centralizes and optimizes every activity that takes place on a farm, while crop management is specific to streamlining and managing crop lifecycles and performance - and this is where micro SaaS-based solutions have immense potential. 

For starters, they enable tracking of every activity, such as spraying, watering, harvesting, packing, and shipping. Data gathered overtime is then used to predict resource requirements and notify farmers of possible crop disease so they can take the required measures. Crop monitoring can also be taken a step further with drones that transmit high resolution field survey images that reveal field variability to help detect crop health issues well in time.

The nimble structure of micro SaaS products helps in keeping the costs low, the solutions tight and feedback loops shorter for ground-level refinement that can unlock immense value for all stakeholders. 

Supply chain management

Full visibility into the agricultural supply chain is essential to plug both data and financial gaps. Supply chain software that helps trace and track produce across the supply chain, can help predict food safety concerns before they arise. GPS-based tracking and barcode labeling facilitates total transparency around date of harvest, live location, transport information, and farmer details. Additional insights and analytics help to better predict demand and thus help producer groups manage their supply accordingly. 

Since most crops and geographies are vastly different, there’s an immense potential for micro SaaS companies to make inroads and capture similar use-cases. For instance, the supply chain visibility product for kharif crops will be very different from those for dairy, poultry or seasonal fruits. 

Optimizing small-scale farming 

India's small-holder farmers comprise 78 percent of the country's farmers, but own only 33 percent of the total cultivated land. However, they still produce 41 percent of the country's food grains. They face several challenges with regard to access to credit, inputs and markets, and this is where SaaS and agri-tech can play a truly transformational role.

Solutions that monitor small farm soil health, forecast weather and analyze potential risks can aid these farmers with improved decision-making and improve their overall yield. 

SaaS-based market linkage solutions can link such farmers with retailers and reduce their dependence on informal middlemen who may force small farmers to sell their produce at lower prices.

Conclusion

Agriculture contributes to almost 20% of the country’s GDP and is a major source of employment for over 40% of Indians. Long held back by traditional practices that resulted in low yields, negative environmental impact, and poor profits, the sector is now reaping the benefits of technology adoption. Digitized supply chains and data-driven decision-making has resulted in higher productivity and increased efficiencies - and this is only the beginning.

For more: Read our blog on India’s ambitious agristack here and this piece on how agri financing can benefit from alternate data analytics and underwriting.