A Request from Agribusiness Matters

Newsletter Fatigue is real. Let's talk so that I don't add to your clutter.

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Agribusiness Matters.

You are receiving this mail from me, Venky, on a cloudy Sunday morning here in Hyderabad. Why are you receiving this mail?

I assume you remember that you had earlier signed up for my Agribusiness Matters Newsletter. This newsletter is a labour of love, driven by a zealous intent to have an honest conversation about the ground truths (pun intended) involved in digitising a wicked (This is not just a poetic choice of phrase. This phrase comes from the world of complexity. Do google it if you are not clear why I am using it here) domain like agriculture.

In a domain in which almost every other player, big or small, feels compelled to invoke purpose-driven narrative of 1) How we need to feed the world that will exceed ~10 billion by 2050... 2) How we need to save the lives of poor farmers, it can be disorienting to distinguish signal from the noise, and understand the real underlying economic and competitive forces that are shaping the digitisation of agriculture.

Given that I work as an independent agritech consultant, I have the rare luxury of being honest with my opinion and call a spade when I see it. Although I currently work with few startups and agri-input firms both in India and outside, I have taken great pains to build a strong firewall that can never be breached inside my sacred blog space. In a world of infinite distraction, I consider your attention a privilege and I will ensure that I work harder to earn it.

Before I became an independent agritech consultant, I used to build all kinds of software in the agri-input supply chain. And if you ask me, it is the most important piece in the entire jig saw puzzle, because, as once my mentor beautifully put it, even if people stop farming tomorrow, the last person to go out of the business will be the agri-input player.

All of which is an excuse to tell you: I will spend a disproportionate amount of time in the agri-input supply chain and see how best I can push the envelope to transform the agri-input supply chain. I will be covering other India-centric domains like FPO (Farmer Producer Organisations) as well. I have an excellent interview coming up with one of foremost experts in this domain. I also have few interviews lined up with few experts from the Canada & North American Ag space and some exciting startups who are pushing the boundaries in fresh produce F&V value chain.

We are a 122 member strong community so far and I would love to make this a community space. Now that you have a sense of what to expect from my newsletter, here is a small request.

  1. Say Hello: Drop me an email and say hello! I would love to hear from you!

  2. Invitations: Can you think of anyone who would benefit and enjoy Agribusiness Matters? Please feel free to share any issue with friends and colleagues on social media and email.

  3. Twitter Love: Would you mind giving this newsletter some love on Twitter? Feel free to tag me or Agribusiness Matters in Twitter.

  4. Comments: Do you have a strong take on my arguments? Do you think I have unfairly depicted few ground realities in my takes? I would more than be happy to publish your takes, if they could help us in taking the conversation forward.

  5. Feedback: Are there topics you want The Agribusiness Matters to cover in the future? Perhaps you have ideas about how the publication can be improved?

  6. SPAM folder: Some subscribers have mentioned issues are getting caught in their spam folder. Please add agribusinessmatters@substack.com to your contacts, or if you are using Hey email, do add my newsletter to your feed via screener.

You can expect an email from me every Monday morning 8 AM IST. I broke my usual publishing routine today to ensure that you connect with this human working behind the scenes and have enough time to catch up on my older editions.

Here is a quick recap of the six editions so far.

1) The Beer Game of Agri-Input Retail: This has to be the most important piece I have ever written on agribusiness so far. I elaborate the bull-whip effect and how it has systematically made Indian farmers’ lives miserable.

2) When Bayer Met Agrostar: This quickly became one of the most popular editions of this fledgling newsletter. I cover the origin story of Agrostar and draw deeper lessons on what the Amazonian aggregator play means in the evolution of agri-input commerce.

3) Introducing Unmagic Quadrant on Digital Agronomy: In this post, I built a no-nonsense framework to help you make strategic decisions about evaluating digital agronomy players (See Shane’s take on the quadrant, covering the North American Ag Retail players)

4) 3 Lessons on Digital Agronomy from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious: This was the most fun to write about and it was also quite shocking to see how much Indian Agritech E-Commerce startup players were behind the curve, when it comes to data policy and leveraging farmer data strategically.

5) Politics of Middlemen in Agri-Input Retail: It riles me to see how much traditional agtech startup narrative wants to paint middlemen as evil and I wrote this post to debunk this narrative.

6) Udaanisation of Agri-Input Retail: When was the last time you found a seasoned Agtech entrepreneur with rich experience in Indian Ag Input Retail talk candidly for sixty minutes about how he plans to disrupt the game in Agri-Input Retail?

Thank you for joining this fun ride with me. I feel the same dreadful excitement you sense in the pit of your stomach when the roller coaster slowly crawls upwards!

Enjoy your Sunday!