Innovator Interview: Stellapps and the challenges and opportunities in the DairyTech space.

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How does Stellapps use technology to improve the livelihoods of smallholder dairy farmers?

Stellapps is a farm to consumer dairy digitization service provider, improving productivity, quality and ensuring end-to-end traceability across the dairy supply chain. It leverages advanced analytics and artificial intelligence through its full-stack IoT platform to enable dairy ecosystem partnerships with financial & insurance institutions, veterinary services, cattle nutrition providers etc. to drive significant value for smallholder farmers and all stakeholders in the dairy value chain. Through its customer base which includes all major private & cooperative dairies, Stellapps currently digitizes over 13 million litres of milk worth USD 3.4 million each day and directly impacts 2.8 million dairy farmers in over 36,000 Indian villages across 15 states.

mooPay is the FinTech arm of Stellapps Technologies. One of the biggest reasons why women in rural India have not been able to access financial services has been lack of access to banks. Through mooPayStellapps promotes the financial inclusion of smallholders by offering holistic financial management services for dairy farmers - credit, payments, banking services along with savings and insurance programs. These are in addition to farm improvement services to help them improve animal productivity and quality of milk, thus also significantly improving income. More than 1000 small ticket loans and 150 cattle loans have been disbursed so far using the mooPay platform, and of these, more than 60% are given to women farmers.

Stellapps’ smartMoo solutions enable end to end digitization of the dairy supply chain. Stellapps’ animal health monitoring and herd management solution enable preventive healthcare and timely extension services.  has also partnered with the world's leading animal nutritional provider to deliver contextual nutrition advisory and farm management advisory to farmers.

Stellapps’s cattle facial recognition system aims to strengthen animal-related digital data for insurance companies, nutrition providers, and financial institutions which offer loans on cattle. It applies machine learning-based predictive analytics technique which uniquely identifies cattle based on its biometric-based ID and body-based ID. The solution enables biometric identification of cattle for transparent livestock claim settlement and thus can help improve livestock insurance penetration in India that is currently below 5%.

Farmers also benefit from the increased efficiency and reduced wastage in the supply chain. For example, Stellapps’ smart procurement solutions have proven to eliminate rejection of milk at the processing plant level by checking quality at the collection and chilling points. Real-time monitoring enabled by Stellapps’s smartMoo solutions prevents adulteration and other leakages. Quality of milk (measured in MBRT) improved by about 30% when Stellapps’ cold chain monitoring solution was used. Improved milk quality enables dairy processors to produce value-added products and tap into premium markets. In the best case scenario, digitization improved farmer profitability up to 5 times for one of our customers. Digitization also has a positive impact on the environment. Stellapps’ solutions reduced energy consumption in the cold chain by 25% and reduced methane emissions by 60% by improving efficiency.

What do you see as challenges and opportunities in the DairyTech space?

The Indian market for dairy sector is the largest in the world. With 300 million bovines, 76 million dairy households, India leads the world with 22% of the global milk production. The Indian dairy and livestock industry is worth about US$225 billion accounting for about 7.6% of India’s GDP. Though the white revolution made India self-sufficient in milk, farm productivity, quality of milk and farmer income are low in several parts of India.

Unlike leading western milk producing nations, 66% of the Indian dairy sector is comprised of smallholder farmers with an average of 1 to 2 cattle. The vast majority of India's small and marginal farmers do not have access to institutional credit due to a lack of documented financial transactions and awareness of financial services options available to them. Thus, farmers are forced to borrow money from local informal sources including money lenders and that often gets them into a vicious cycle of borrowing at usurious rates. The lack of transparency and traceability in the milk supply chain leads to inefficiencies and leakages in the system.

With the rapid expansion of dairy digitization and future tech innovations, India will be able to solve the compelling challenges in its dairy value chain at scale. Future tech like IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence), cloud technology, big data analytics and computer vision are revolutionizing how things work and will play a major role in shaping the future.

What were the challenges Stellapps observed during Covid and what are your plans for the future?

COVID-19 has changed the world in the last one and half years. The districts where Stellapps is operational were some of the worst affected in India, and hence, the operations were severely impacted during the peak of the infection waves. mooPay team took it as an opportunity to improve the credit-facilitation efficiency and develop innovative ways of reaching out to farmers, without compromising on safety and COVID-19 protocols. Due to the complete digital nature of mooPay, farmers continued to receive their payments on time. We also ensured our sachet loan offering did not stop, which ensured that farmers had sufficient cash flow to meet their daily needs.

The pandemic served to impress the necessity for digital technology for the continuation of Business As Usual. Stellapps plans to swiftly scale its digital solutions to ensure smallholder farmers get access to necessary products and services and create a traceable, transparent supply chain which will benefit both the farmer and the consumer. Stellapps has partnered with several financial and insurance service providers, leading cattle nutrition providers and laid out its digital network across India to create a partnership based digital ecosystem to increase the income and profitability of the Indian smallholder farmer.

With a big thank you to the Stellapps Team who made this interview possible: Aparna Divakar (Marketing Manager); Rahul Mallick (CEO - FinTech & Value Added Services); and Umesh Prajapat (Head of Strategy.