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India stands as a global agronomic powerhouse today. Having evolved from scarcity and dependency on imports, it is now the second largest producer of rice, wheat, and other related products. When the world was hit with successive waves of COVID, many countries acquired food grains at heavy prices and stored them in reserves while India not only maintained public stocks of rice and wheat at 2.8 times the norms but also increased its agricultural exports by over 17% in 2020-21. This bears testimony to the tremendous growth in its agricultural sector.
Despite this enormous achievement, the rice farmers in India grapple with decreased crop productivity and reduced quality of their yields every year. One of the key causes for it is the infestation of a pest called Brown Plant Hopper (BPH) which reduces the harvest by up to 70%. With rice being the principal food crop in India and the staple food for 65% of its total population, its reduced yields have overwhelming effects on its farmers.
Corteva Agriscience™, a global agricultural company committed to provide agronomic support to help farmers increase their productivity and profitability has launched a unique tech-enabled and scalable Customer Engagement program called Udayan – Tarakki ka naya savera (a new dawn of prosperity). It is powered by Pexalon, the best-in-class tool for controlling BPH.
To implement this program among the rice-growing farmers, Corteva has adopted a unique approach of “nudging” them out of their reluctance and denial. After all, for farmers, their yield is not just their livelihood but also their pride and honor. Therefore, the best way to enable them to adopt the program is by introducing them to fellow-farmers who have already benefited from it and have achieved prosperity. Through Udayan, Corteva has built a community of rice farmers along with existing users of Pexalon who believe in taking the right action against BPH infestation and maximizing the benefits.
Rice farmers across India have been able to increase their harvests by 10% using Pexalon and securing their crop from BPH. During the pandemic, when below-the-line marketing channels were not available for farmers to procure Pexalon, Udayan bridged this gap effectively and facilitated the farmers to secure their crop.
Today, Udayan is a robust and integrated ecosystem of farmers which connects with them through a multitude of communication channels such as SMS, WhatsApp, IVR calls, contact centers, social media, influencers and so on with the preferred language of the region to drive advocacy at a pan India level. Its salient engaging features are:
- The Farmer Connect App which can scan the unique QR codes printed on the products and record every milestone in the customers’ journey such as referrals, uploading images and so on.
- A scoring model to determine the nature of engagement based on the milestones and a 6-step messaging journey covering all of them.
- Unique marketing systems and push notifications for customer-initiated engagements.
Udayan also addresses the following three challenges which it has identified as the key factors which could impede its endorsement by its potential customers by implementing a distinctive reward-system for each of them:
- Instilling consumer-awareness for fake products: To educate farmers about differentiating between a genuine Pexalon product and a fake one, Udayan has introduced a ‘Scan and Win’ program with assured cashback. Farmers can scan the QR code on the products using the Farmer Connect app and win coupons per acre of Pexalon usage.
- Addressing Lack of Brand Advocacy: Udayan empowers rice farmers to alert their peers wherever BPHs are spotted in their fields and encourages them through referral programs to advocate the benefits of Pexalon in protecting their crops and enhancing their yields. It offers coupons for lucky draws and 10% cashback for people who refer if their peers procure Pexalon.
- Encouraging Community to help Each other Prosper: Farmers are encouraged to alert each other on appearance of BPH pest in rice, through Corteva platforms, which help others to apply Pexalon on time and protect their crop, thus improving the productivity. To encourage other farmers to adapt new technology like Pexalon and improve productivity, Udayan facilitates the farmers to share pictures of their achievements on Farmer Connect app. It has introduced Field Day and Harvest Day which are competitions for achieving high yield to provide visual proofs to all farmers and encourage them to adopt Pexalon while also hailing those who participate in them.
Bringing to life, Pexalon’s promise ‘Ahead of Time, Ahead of World’, Udayan’s mission of connecting, unifying, and engaging with the rice growing farmers in India has yielded rich dividends with it receiving an overwhelming response from the farmers within its very first year of inception. Udayan received about 40 million impressions and its videos describing the benefits of Pexalon were viewed by over 5.7 million people. More than 5 lakh farmers visited Corteva’s website to know more about the products and its posts received close to 3 lakh reactions of appreciation. Overall, Udayan touched the lives of millions in the farmer community within the very first year of its being operational.
As a result of this overwhelming response and farmers’ willingness to join hands and achieve collective prosperity, Udayan successfully enrolled 83,000 farmers into its program, covered more than a million acres of farms with Corteva’s products for crop-protection and got more than 113,000 farmers scan its products using The Farmer Connect app for their current and future use. Rice growers voluntarily raised 11,000 pest alerts both in their fields and those of their peers and together referred 60,000 farmers to join Udayan’s movement. Over 6,300 field moments were uploaded in the Farmer Connect app as part of Udayan’s engagement activities, celebrating their wins against BPH’s menace and encouraging other farmers to reap the benefits.
To sum it up, Udayan has received stupendous success in transforming the lives of rice farmers and in driving prosperity in the agricultural sector.
Mr. Randhir Singh, a farmer from Karnal, Haryana has been farming for over two decades and grows both rice and wheat. Losing up to 20% of his yields to BPH was a common occurrence for him until his local representative of Corteva recommended Pexalon to him. “As per his advice, I mixed it with water and sprayed it lightly over my crops. After twenty-five days, I found to my greatest surprise that my crops were free of BPH. I was able to harvest more than two quintals of rice per acre which has made me immensely proud” recounts Mr. Singh. He has, since then, been actively recommending it to his neighboring farm owners.
Mr. Srinivas Reddy belongs to a family of rice farmers and owns acres of lands in Gangavathi, Karnataka. Having tried several methods to safeguard their crops from BPH and watching them fail, they were dismayed to see more than 20% of their crops turning brown and vanquish before their eyes. He explains, “We were also skeptical about using harsh chemicals because of the fear that they may harm other insects and birds. When recommended to use Pexalon, we divided our farm into three parts. We used our regular product on the first part, Pexalon on the second and none on the third. After three weeks, while BPH returned in the first and rampaged the third parts of our farm, the second one was completely free of BPH while the spiders and other insects stayed safe. This convinced us that Pexalon was the right product to keep our rice crop safe from BPH and achieve high yields”.
Mr. Reddy now proudly shares pictures of his yields in his Farmer Connect app and encourages other farmers in his town to join the Udayan program and reap its benefits.