India: Startup assists farmers in using renewable energy at village-level

AgriVijay, a Pune-based agritech startup founded by Vimal Panjwani and Shobha Chanchlani in the midst of the Covid outbreak back in June 2020, has developed a marketplace for renewable energy products connecting farmers and rural households.

With a vision focussed on increasing farmer savings and incomes, reducing dependency on fossil fuels such as diesel and firewood, and contributing to climate change mitigation, AgriVijay is “empowering farmers for tomorrow” with renewable energy products in solar, biogas, and electricity.

“I came up with the idea that farmers still struggle to get renewable energy products at the village level – whether you talk about solar, biogas, electric, wind, or hydro; farmers don’t have knowledge about the product and they don’t get it at village level. So, we decided, why not open a marketplace of renewable energy where we will understand the energy needs of farmers and help them increase savings and income and mitigate the climate change issue which is the need of the hour,” Panjwani said.

Panjwani wishes that farmers and everybody else in the ecosystem win. “Vijay, in Hindi, means winning, and farmers should feel the connection with our Indian company. Our vision is to make agriculture win with renewable energy. Hence, we named our startup AgriVijay, which was officially registered on June 25, 2020. This journey started from an apartment in Pashan during the Covid-19 lockdown period.”

Panjwani and his team realized that farmers do not buy solar water pumps, solar inverters, biogas digesters, or electric tractors online. “These are very capital-intensive products and farmers are not so comfortable buying these products online. So, we started our offline model which is a renewable energy store model. These stores located in villages are opened by the businesses which were impacted by Covid and want a cash flow. Along with the cash business, we actually bring savings for rural communities and also earn some income. That’s why this model worked very well. Our first store opened in December 2020, and we started getting orders for solar pumps, solar inverters, biogas digesters. By the time we came to Maharashtra in February, we had already generated a good amount of business in Rajasthan. We had about 10 renewable energy stores by March 2021,” Panjwani stated.

AgriVijay has now launched free solar insurance on renewable energy products. “Most farmers and families were not switching to solar products because they feared that someone might steal the solar panel or natural calamities like heavy rains or sand dunes which may damage the panel. Hence, we started giving free solar insurance against theft and damage so that farmers can switch to renewable energy easily with us. We are also launching an easy EMI scheme next month with one reputed NBFC and bank so that poor, small, and marginal farmers can buy these products in installments. By next month we will launch the EMI scheme in Baramati and Jaipur,” adds Panjwani.

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