Mother-son duo's renewable energy marketplace empowers farmers, clocks Rs 2.5 crore annual revenue

After her retirement, Shobha Chanchlani and her son Vimal Panjwani started AgriVijay in 2020. The agritech startup offers solar, biogas, and electric energy products in 495 villages. It cuts energy costs for farmers and mitigates climate change 

Riya Singh
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Shobha Chanchlani and Vimal Panjwani

Shobha Chanchlani and Vimal Panjwani set up AgriVijay in 2020

Shobha Chanchlani and Vimal Panjwani, the mother-son duo, have empowered scores of farmers and rural households through their agri-tech startup AgriVijay in the last four years.  The country’s first renewable energy marketplace, AgriVijay helps farmers become energy independent by reducing the use of fossil fuels like diesel and firewood, and increasing their savings while mitigating climate change.

Operating in over 495 villages across India, the Pune-based company offers solar, biogas, thermal, wind and electric energy products that cut fuel costs and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) like carbon dioxide and methane.

After having a long stint in companies like Bisleri, Sony Pictures Networks India,, and ICICI Bank, and helping build startups like AgriBolo, Ugaoo, and Dharma Life from the ground, Vimal was looking to switch to a new role.

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Post-retirement startup

On the other hand, his mother Shobha was nearing her retirement having served the Rajasthan government for over 30 years. Shobha, however, did not want to spend her retirement days sitting idle. Her passion for doing some meaningful work in the agri sector burned bright.

With some coercing from his mother, Vimal agreed to work with her. 

“I never wanted to become an entrepreneur, but mom pushed me towards it saying if you are building companies for others why can’t you build one with me,” says Vimal.

The duo realized that there was no marketplace for renewable energy products for farmers and rural households from which they could choose. They did the groundwork and registered AgriVijay in June 2020, with an initial investment of Rs 30 lakh. The company was fully operational by November.

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Initially, AgriVijay focused on a few products that were already popular among the farmers such as solar water pumps, solar inverters, and biogas digesters. The company’s team began to interact with farmers to understand their needs and the products that could help them increase their savings. 

Agri drone, flexible biogas digester and solar insect trap from AgriVijay.
Agri drone and flexible biogas digester from AgriVijay.

“Our idea was to add products that benefit the farmers and can be made available at the village level,” says Vimal.

AgriVijay now boasts a strong portfolio of over 200 products across various categories including solar, organic, AgTech, electric, and biogas. 

Some of the popular ones are solar water pumps, electric toolbars, solar sprayers, and solar kisan torches. The products ranging from solar insect traps to drones are priced between Rs844 and Rs10 lakh.

“The biggest advantage of using renewable energy products is immediate savings or added income for the farmers,” says the agripreneur.

Reduced costs = Higher savings

"We were paying Rs 15,000-20,000 on electricity bills for irrigating our vegetable farms earlier. Now we are saving that money by using solar water pumps,” says Shahbuddin, a farmer in Khanpura village, Rajasthan.

“We recovered our investments in just one year,” he adds.

Similarly, biogas digesters replace firewood and LPG with clean cooking fuel such as biogas. The biogas slurry replaces fertilizers in the farm, cutting costs and reducing the use of chemicals.

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Banwari Lal, a farmer from Samota ka Bas in Rajasthan has installed a biogas plant as well as solar pump. “We have replaced the wooden chulha with biogas. It has cut costs, and improved the health of our family members as it is smokeless and saves a lot of time in cooking. I use the slurry in my tomato and green chilli farm and it has improved the yields,” he says.

solar water pump
Solar water pump at Banwari Lal's farm. Pic: AgriVijay

The company has reduced 10,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and replaced 59,000 kg of firewood with clean cooking fuels such as biogas. It has helped the farmers save and earn an additional income of over Rs17.5 lakh.

AgriVijay’s annual turnover for the first few months of operations stood at Rs 22 lakh. It recently crossed Rs 2.5 crore. The business was valued at Rs 30 crore last year, says Vimal.

The business model

The startup’s business model involves partnering with various companies, startups, and product manufacturers in the renewable energy space and bringing different kinds of products under one umbrella. The company partnered with 15 brands in the first year and now has around 45 partner brands.

The company’s team works on product portfolios and decides which ones are beneficial both for the environment and farmers. They on-board partners only if the product is aligned with the company’s mission and vision.

The demand for the products also varies depending on their use cases, weather conditions, and the regions. 

While solar products see strong demand in Maharashtra and Rajasthan, green energy products are bestsellers in North East and South India.

The company witnessed strong demand for renewable products post-Covid. “Before Covid, there was less inclination towards renewable products but after feeling the pangs of the pandemic, people realized the importance of saving money and saving the environment. They already knew that green energy can help them increase their savings so they started shifting immediately,” says Vimal.

An AgriVijay store in a village. Pic: AgriVijay 

AgriVijay also educates farmers on the uses and benefits of renewable energy products. “I partnered with AgriVijay after Covid. I have generated a profit of about Rs 20,000 in three months by educating farmers and communities about the benefits of renewable energy products,” says Swapnil Chandgude, a franchise owner in Baramati, Maharashtra. His product range includes solar cold storage and solar refrigerators, which reduce post-harvest losses and increase the shelf life of products.

Over the last four years, the company has set up over 80 renewable energy products stores at the village level in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, UP, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

Commenting on the challenges, Vimal says that building any agritech startup that is aligned with climate change is difficult. “When we started during Covid, there was a struggle for survival but because of the strong demand and farmer’s trust we kept raising funds and kept growing,” he says. 

AgriVijay is an ANIC 2.0 (Atal New India Challenge) winner and is backed by Atal Innovation Mission & NITI Aayog. The company aims to onboard 10 million farmers and open 10,000 renewable energy stores that can be further scaled up to 1 lakh creating entrepreneurship and livelihood generation at the village level. “We want to cut down 1 million CO2 emissions, and we are also planning to expand in Africa,” says Vimal.

(Riya Singh is a Ranchi-based journalist who writes on environment, farming, sustainability, startups, & women empowerment)

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