Zarai Mandi – Helping Supply Chain Players Take Control of their Business

Zarai Mandi – Helping Supply Chain Players Take Control of their Business

While conducting surveys in Sindh for major cash crops in early 2022, Ghasharib Shoukat encountered a recurring issue amongst farmers – their inability to determine the actual worth of their produce. Despite their efforts, they remain at the mercy of middlemen who manipulate them due to their financial illiteracy and the exorbitant black market rates of inputs such as fertilizers, seeds and pesticides. This issue had to be resolved so that the farmers and other supply-chain players could begin to get a fair price for their arduous work. Ghasharib often thought about what might be the most efficient way to solve this problem. WhatsApp groups were common but spread out too wide and often had irrelevant content that was neither sorted nor actionable or verifiable.

This led Ghasharib to the National Incubation Center, Faisalabad (NICF), a hub for Agritech startups, to initiate his agricultural venture. Under the guidance of NICF, he rebranded his company from Agri Info to Zarai Mandi, a more accessible name for locals. Ghasharib realized that the B2C (Business to Consumer) market in Pakistan has massive potential and can be greatly expanded to improve the overall agricultural landscape in Pakistan given over 40% of Pakistan’s labour force is involved in agriculture.  The Founder Institute Curriculum at NICF played a crucial role in shaping Ghasharib into an astute founder, training him to plan and reflect through the thoroughness of the assignments. The experience has been invaluable in bringing his idea to life. Abdul Raafey, Ghasharib’s brother moved back from the United States to join his brother as co-founder of Zarai Mandi to bring this project to life.

The concept behind Zarai Mandi is to provide B2C agriculture stakeholders with real-time market prices of major crops through a WhatsApp chatbot. Given the prevalence of WhatsApp usage in Pakistan, Zarai Mandi leverages the widespread spread of WhatsApp in rural Pakistan to reach farmers, traders, transporters, commission agents, kiryana stores and push-cart owners to reduce the disparity of information asymmetry in the agricultural industry. The chatbot accepts payments through local payment apps like EasyPaisa and JazzCash, making transactions seamless for farmers.

Ghasharib’s goal for Zarai Mandi is to become an agricultural operating system for everyone involved in the supply chain, from farmers to retailers, with the ultimate aim of uplifting farmers and reducing disparity. With a smart, informed, and empowered next generation of those who feed us and ensure Pakistan’s food security, Zarai Mandi is poised to revolutionize the agriculture industry in Pakistan.