Farming is an essential but challenging line of work. Around the world, farmers operate on razor-thin margins. Payment only comes at the harvest, which can be as infrequent as once per year, leaving them financially vulnerable for months at a time. Crop failure can be devastating. In the face of changing consumption patterns, escalating climate risks, and economic uncertainty, farmers need reliable ways to ensure their own livelihoods while feeding the world’s growing population and creating a positive environmental impact. Many are turning to aquaculture — the practice of raising fish and other aquatic life for consumption. To make this work viable, they need support.
Fortunately, technology can help aquaculture farmers gain the insights and financial resources needed to reduce waste and increase their output along with their incomes. AquaExchange is a full stack solution that provides farm management technology (IoT solutions) and financial services to aquaculture farmers and exporters in rural India. Their vision is to improve farmer productivity and livelihoods in the second-largest aquaculture country in the world. AquaExchange, an Accion Venture Lab portfolio company, has reached thousands of farmers since its founding in 2020, helping their operations become more efficient and sustainable. Its combination of hardware, software, ecommerce, and financial services make AquaExchange stand out in the agtech space. And all of these services are available to farmers through their mobile app.
Krishnam Raju, an AquaExchange customer, has benefitted from the low-cost credit AquaExchange offers to buy high-quality inputs — the “seed” or juvenile shrimp that start a pond, and the feed that helps them grow. “When feed selection and seed selection are good, then there are more chances of getting better output,” he says. Using AquaExchange’s app, farmers like Krishnam Raju can purchase seed, feed, and other products at low prices and get the inputs delivered right to their farms.
With his pond seeded, Krishnam Raju can use AquaExchange’s digital sensory devices to monitor the aerators and automate feeding his prawns. If the pond loses power, he receives an alert on his phone through the app and an employee can resolve the situation — preventing total loss of the entire crop. He also installed the Automatic Power Factor Controller (APFC) to help manage the use of energy in the pond. AquaExchange’s platform also provides end-to-end procurement management, directly connecting farmers to exporters so they can sell their crops at a fair price. These features reduce costs and minimize waste of money, feed, and energy so that aquaculture farmers can improve their harvests and increase their incomes.
Accion invests in and provides strategic guidance to innovative, scalable fintech companies like AquaExchange that improve the reach, quality, and affordability of financial services for the underserved. “The proudest we have been is when we see the smallest of farmers using our technology because we brought this technology to a level where it is costing the farmer less than $1 per acre per month. With this kind of pricing, we are able to take this technology to the smallest of small farmers,” says AquaExchange CEO Pavan Kosaraju. AquaExchange’s focus on farmers, and their insight into what smallholder farmers really need to thrive, will make them invaluable to the growing aquaculture market.
“Farm culture is very good,” Krishnam Raju says. “Demand is good here as well as in foreign countries. That is why many farmers are showing interest in shrimp farming.” Indeed, with demand for seafood projected to grow, partnerships like AquaExchange and Accion Venture Lab’s will remain important to providing the tools and financial services that aquaculture farmers need. Pavan notes, “It’s always the farmer first, every day. What keeps us awake is the fact that we can go out there into the farms and solve one more small problem of the farmer. For one farmer, it could be a small problem. But when we solve it, and we look at its scale in the ecosystem, then that builds up into a very huge impact. That is what drives us every day.” See how AquaExchange’s services make a difference for farmers like Krishnam Raju:
To hear more about how AquaExchange’s solutions empower farmers to reduce production costs and sustainably farm seafood, listen to CEO Pavan Kosaraju’s interview on Accion Venture Lab’s Fintech for the People podcast.