From Farm-To-Cooling-To-Storing-To-Delivery: Varun Khurana’s Otipy
From Farm to Fridge. This a concept many people and companies try, but fail in terms of their quality, delivery, and other factors. Several platforms have emerged recently that take vegetables and other agricultural products directly from local farmers and deliver it to your doorstep.
In contemporary food supply chains, farm-to-fork platforms are essential for freshness, quality, farmer participation, transparency, traceability, and accessibility. These platforms have quality control procedures in place, support regional agriculture, and lessen their negative effects on the environment. Additionally, they give small farmers access to markets, promoting rural development and bridging the gap between urban and rural areas.
Varun Khurana founded Otipy in 2020 with the idea of helping local farmers and acting like a bridge between them and their consumers. Varun Khurana was “vocal for local” before “vocal for local” was a thing.
“We focus on direct procurement from farmers based on demand predictions. This eliminates intermediaries, ensuring fair payments and empowering the farming community,” says Khurana, CEO of Otipy, operated by Crofarm Agriproducts Pvt Ltd.
In order to precisely estimate demand for each item, Otipy’s algorithm employs data regression and machine learning to calculate demand based on over 40 criteria, including past customer orders, seasonality, prices, temperature, and holidays.
The creator claims that by providing farmers with insights into crop planning and harvesting cycles, this method guarantees that consumers will obtain fresh products precisely when needed.
Started With an Idea
Otipy is a business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) agritech venture run by Crofarm India that was founded in June 2020. Through a network of resellers who manage the last-mile distribution of fruits and vegetables, it links producers and end users. It makes use of previous data to acquire farm products with the aid of AI-based demand forecast.
“I spent some time on farms. When I was so close to the problem it was almost impossible not to notice the massive gaps in the market. From the farmers, to the sellers, to the re-sellers to the customers. No one was 100% satisfied. I just knew it was a problem worth solving. A problem worth my time. That’s how Otipy was born —- from farm to fork. It’s fast, it’s fresh, it’s affordable and it’s conscious.”
After working as chief technology officer at Grofers (now Blinkit) and co-founding the online grocery delivery business MyGreenBox, he moved on to launch Otipy, an agritech startup that aims to enhance the fresh produce supply chain, in May 2020.
He launched the startup in Delhi-NCR with the goal of assisting small farmers who lack substantial landholdings and the financial means to sell their produce in mandis. Otipy was founded over three years ago, and as of right now, the platform has partnered with 100 FPOs (Farmer Producer Organizations) and over 20,000 small farmers.
Our idea behind starting Otipy was to cater to a large target addressable market (TAM) both for consumers as well as farmers. As such, the average landholding of our farmers is around a hectare. Farmers associated with us have improved their incomes by about 35%-40%,” claims Varun Khurana, CEO and founder of Otipy, in a conversation with The Better India.
“Otipy has also set up its pre-cooling units at the farms which helps keep the produce fresh on the ground, even during peak summers which helps farmers earn the maximum profit. We employ a method called pre-cooling, which reduces the field heat of the produce harvested by farmers and increases the shelf life of the product by almost 50%,” he adds.
One day, Khurana came across Grofers, a similar online grocery delivery platform.
“After Grofers, I spent time on farms, which led to the realization that there was a significant gap between the quality demanded by end-users and the quality produced at the farm level. This gap was compounded by substantial wastage, which ultimately resulted in consumers paying a high premium compared to the price at which farmers sold their produce,” he says.
As a B2B business, Crofarm, the parent company of Otipy, first had to deal with difficulties like poor margins, long credit terms, and problems with payment collection. Otipy changed its primary business model to a B2B2C strategy four years after its founding, concentrating on providing fresh fruit.
Otipy installed pre-cooling equipment on farms to preserve crops even during the hottest summer days. By keeping the product at a temperature below the surrounding air, these machines increase its shelf life and prevent quality degradation. According to Khurana, this procedure also lessens temperature shocks and preserves relative humidity. Produce freshness and quality are maintained in Otipy’s warehouses thanks to temperature and humidity control systems.
Currently, the firm collaborates closely with over 1,000 partners and re-sellers in Mumbai and Delhi-NCR, providing fresh products to over 10 lakh end users right at their doorstep. Farmers in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra supply them with a range of fresh fruits and vegetables.
In order to help with precise demand forecasting, offer insights for crop planning and harvesting cycles, and facilitate informed decision-making, Otipy has partnered with more than 20,000 small farmers and 100 farmer-producer organizations. The platform helps farmers maximize crop production for higher yields and profitability by letting them access high-quality seeds, fertilizers, and funding.