By Laxman Kafle, Kathmandu, Sept. 1: There is good news for the consumers in the Kathmandu Valley. Freshktm, a new company, is now preparing to supply fresh and safe vegetables to consumers through the business-to-business (B to B) supply chain approach.
Freshktm is Nepal's innovative agritech start-up, founded in 2020 to meet consumers' demand for easy access to fresh and healthy produce.
A group of four is all set to start the business with a plan to supply fresh vegetables and fruits containing a low quantity of chemicals directly to the retailers and consumers from the farmers.
Interestingly, all the four have had a reputation in their business and professional career and one of them has returned to Nepal from Japan where he stayed 16 years.
“Freshktm is dedicated to delivering fresh vegetables that are carefully selected and tested in labs by checking pesticide levels before they are supplied to the consumers,” said Sandip Adhikari, the Japan-returnee man and Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Freshktm Private Limited.
Vegetables and fruits will be purchased directly from the farmers and will be graded and packaged as per the requirement and delivered to the retail outlets, he said.
They have designed the agricultural production value chain to contribute to increasing the income of farmers and making Nepal self-reliant in vegetables.
Under the B to B supply chain, the company would provide technical and financial support to the farmers who want to work is affiliated with them and produce safe vegetables as per the government standards, he said.
“Our technical team will guide the farmers about any variety of vegetables from plantation to harvest for quality assurance. We assure the farmers to purchase all their products if their goods are safe and fresh for consumption,” he said.
Adhikari said that they would not purchase goods if they are not healthy for consumption as a technical team would check the products while purchasing them from the farmers.
“Farmers are also free to sell their products even after affiliating with us. We will inform the farmers about the prices of products a day before harvesting. Price will be determined based on the market analyses as the company will monitor the market before fixing the rate,” he said.
Mentioning that many farmers cannot get payments from traders in time, he said that they would develop a system to pay farmers within 24-48 hours of purchasing goods giving direct cash or through the banking system.
“We will develop local collection centres for purchasing goods from farmers and warehouses in required places for the supply of goods to the retailers,” he said.
At present, the company is constructing a warehouse in Bhaktapur, later such warehouses will be set up at other places based on requirements for easy distribution.
“We will maintain perfect temperature using cooling infrastructure during storage, packing, and delivery, following global standards to handle fresh produce. We are committed to supplying our goods down to the market only if we ourselves can eat the items we have purchased,” said another operator and managing director Niroj Kumar Thapaliya.
He said that the transformation in the supply chain and the transfer of benefits to producers would encourage vegetable and fruit growers and help augment the agriculture sector.
"It gives good margins to farmers and sellers," Thapaliya said, “All goods of Freshktm can be found at the same rate everywhere.”
The B to B supply chain system would contribute for the timely delivery of products from farm to the kitchen with minimum transportation cost along with minimum post-harvest losses, Adhikari added.
Similarly, the company would deliver goods to retailers as per their demand. However, the retailers must order goods a day in advance to get them. Adhikari said that retailers should sell vegetables maintaining standards to keep goods fresh as the company’s staff will monitor the retail shops as well.
High-profit margin, time-saving, door-step delivery and branding advantages are the benefits for the retailers, he said.
“Consumers can see the details of products with the help of QR code as the company will update real-time data from the plantation, harvest, warehousing, distributing and sales. QR codes will be labeled on food baskets. Consumers can trace details by scanning the QR code with the help of apps,” Adhikari said.
He said that initially they would supply vegetables in the Kathmandu Valley by collecting them from across the country.
He, however, said that the supply would be extended in other cities, including Pokhara, gradually.
Freshktm outlet to open from Saturday
Under the quality fresh and safe food supply journey in Nepal, Freshktm is going to launch an outlet in Kathmandu for selling safe and fresh vegetables produced in different places.
Even though the company’s main objective is to work in B2B supply chain, it is going to start selling vegetables through B2C approach immediately for branding and make people aware of fresh and safe locally grown produce, said Madhav Joshi, director of Freshktm.
It has set up its own outlet between Ratopul (Gyaneshwar) and Setopul (Maitidevi) which will officially come into operation from Saturday.
“We are launching a fresh product outlet to promote locally grown fresh produce. Consumers will be able to buy all kinds of vegetables and fruits in the trolley as per their requirements,” he said.