Ad man Sajan Raj Kurup sets up organic produce platform

NEW DELHI: Adman Sajan Raj Kurup on Tuesday announced the launch of Saintfarm Agro LLP, an organic farming, processing, and online retailing platform that will sell fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables, honey, apart from pulses and ghee as demand for organic products in India’s top metro picks pace.

Saintfarm was set up with an initial investment of $2-3 million after Kurup acquired decade-old Ahmedabad-based Arpit Organic, set up by Nehal Shah.

Shah still holds a minority stake in Arpit Organic and is now chief operating officer of Saintfarm.

Kurup has spent the last two years scaling up and backward integrating organic farmers, producers, suppliers and logistics providers to enable Saintfarm operations. Saintfarm enables online ordering for consumers via a mobile ordering app.

The company said it is covering the entire process – from acquiring organic farmland, aggregating organic farmers producers, setting up organic food processing and packing unit, building apiaries and recruiting the right supply chain partners to custom building an innovative Saintfarm app across IOS and Android to make it accessible to the whole country.

Saintfarm currently delivers its pulses and ghee pan-India, while the company is setting up the infrastructure and creating a more “hyper-local” network for its fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables. “I think there is a huge market for conscious consumption,” said Sajan Raj Kurup, the founder of ad agency Creativeland Asia.

He also set up Ventureland Asia, an alternative investment fund (AIF) in 2017. The fund focuses on early-stage start-ups in the e-commerce, education, healthcare, agri-tech and e-sports space. A few months ago, Kurup invested $1 million in gaming startup Revenant Esports and became a 40% stakeholder in the company founded in 2020.

Kurup said startup is looking at raising funds, with “strong strategic investors”. He said he’s and his friends have already pumped in about $2-$3 million in the organic produce business since it is capex intensive. ” Just building the app is, about Rs4-5 crore. But building AI on top of it… so there’s a whole lot of investments,” he said.

Saintfarm aims to bring togther 15,000 farmers on its platform in the next two years. “We encourage farmers to switch to organic farming, we help get the certification, then we have our own agronomist and agronomic inspectors, who regularly visit them and helping them get certified. The market is ready, because the organic sector is very unorganized,” said Nehal Shah.

The company has also set up farming facilities for fruits and vegetables across Nasik in Maharashtra, Ahmedabad, Anand, Boriyavi, Nadiyad in Gujarat and Reengus, Khatu in Rajasthan, said Kurup.

Currently, the Saintfarm supply chain covers over 650 farmers in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and the north-east, growing organic cereals, pulses, oilseeds, spices to fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

The company has set up its first processing unit in Ahmedabad for flours and pulses. It plans to set up similar units in Mumbai, Jaipur, Begaluru and Delhi -NCR to expand capacity.

In its first year, Kurup said, the platform will is not chase revenues but focus on customer acquisition.

The market for organic foods in India touched $815 million in 2020, as per estimates. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 24% during 2021-2026. This has been especially accelerated in the aftermath of the pandemic.

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