We talked to Kamesh Mupparaju on how SFarmsIndia is a liquidity platform to buy/sell agricultural lands, eco farms, and estate lands, and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Kamesh Mupparaju: I am doing great, and my family is also doing well. Thanks to nature, we moved to my native village farm and stayed over there during this Corona Pandemic. Now things are normal, and soon I will be back to my workplace/city.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SFarmsIndia?
Kamesh Mupparaju: I did my MBA in 2007, right after my engineering graduation. Since 2007 I have been into financial markets. Initially, I worked for equity markets, then moved to commodity markets. In 2012, I moved to Singapore to work as a forex analyst. That is where I explored the bitcoin market and moved back to India in Oct 2013. In 2014, I launched BTCXIndia- India’s First Bitcoin exchange and ran it successfully till March 2018. I exited the crypto market, explored the Agri land marketplace, and found SFarmsIndia in July 2018.
‘Buy land; they are not making it anymore,’ a quote by Mark Twain, emphasizes the importance of lands and their immense value. At present, there is no liquidity platform in India to buy/sell Agri lands as most of the existing reality portals are focused on listing urban properties or houses/flats. The entire market is untapped, and most transactions happen through agents reaping massive commissions and margins. My previous venture was a bitcoin exchange. While trading bitcoins, I have observed that the investors rushed to buy bitcoins because of the limit on bitcoins’ mining. Based on the experience, I stumbled upon the idea of trading lands as an asset class. The size of Agri lands in India/world is limited, and investors may foray into agriland buying patterns similar to bitcoin. In India, the size of arable land is 159.7 million hectares, fixed, and can’t make it anymore. In 2010, investors were buying tens of bitcoins, and now they are buying a fraction of the bitcoin due to the limited size of the number of bitcoins. Similarly, our forefathers(especially in India) bought tens of acres in a single transaction, and presently we are buying lands in sizes less than an acre. The next generation may have to buy the land infractions. In India, the recession is imminent, with tumbling GDP numbers and a sharp economic downturn. Agri land investments are recession-proof throughout history, particularly on a risk basis when considering volatility. It always outperforms bonds and other asset classes. Considering the above factors, I firmly believe this is the right time to enter the Agri realty market and tap a significant share.
How does SFarmsIndia Innovate?
Kamesh Mupparaju: Except for agricultural lands, all traditional assets have trade engines or marketplaces to trade or transact. We took cues from our past businesses and implemented them in the new one. The result is a beautiful amalgamation and a revolutionary concept called “Land Fraction Trading.”
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Kamesh Mupparaju: The COVID crisis has dramatically increased market volatility and pushed investors to diversify their assets. As the desire for alternative investments continues to rise, Agri land shows itself as a powerful tool for those seeking assets that are not correlated to publicly traded markets. Indian Agri land is emerging as a new haven for investors, providing diversification, inflation protection, and return potential. COVID is profoundly impacting the markets — Oil prices; for example, oil took a significant dive earlier this year due to geopolitical disagreements. This is where agriculture emerges as a promising tool for diversification. Not only because alternative investments related to agricultural lands are not correlated to traditional vehicles like stocks or bonds, but also because they’ve brought consistent returns over the last decades. Indian GDP numbers have tumbled and turned negative except for the agriculture sector. The agriculture sector performed well at the outset, and our Agri realty business had decent growth and profits.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Kamesh Mupparaju: When I launched the online marketplace for agricultural lands, I had the impression of onboarding the farmers and land developers for selling the agricultural land would be very easy, but in practice, I faced a lot of challenges in technology adoption by farmers. Hence we made some offline systems/mechanisms to help farmers onboard quickly. I learned that we couldn’t push the tech completely, and therefore, by balancing both technology and traditional methods together, we can bring the farmers onboard efficiently and effectively.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Kamesh Mupparaju: Every weekend, I go to farmlands for my business feedback, where I spend time with farmers, villagers, and activities like swimming in canals and ponds, etc.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Kamesh Mupparaju: There exist many well-noted property marketplaces focusing only on urban properties and commercial properties. As the urban/retail market slowed down due to the Pandemic, there is a chance of exploring rural reality. As I am into a marketplace exclusive for agricultural lands, I have created a vast data bank for India’s agricultural lands, and we believe we have the first-mover advantage.
Your final thoughts?
Kamesh Mupparaju: The next big bet in India is agricultural lands due to new government laws on agriculture. Due to the Covid Pandemic, investors are betting to invest in agricultural lands.
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