Earlier this year, Facebook and Google invested over $10 billion USD into Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of the Reliance company controlled by Mukesh Ambani. Valued at over $60 billion USD, Jio Platforms hopes to dominate the digital space – including streaming shows, retail, banking, groceries, and, most recently, farming.
On February 4, Jio Platforms launched JioKrishi – the app for farmers. While being marketed as a way to help farmers maximize harvest & minimize losses, more likely JioKrishi will aggregate data from farms all over the country and provide real time insights to Reliance about crop yields. Ultimately, this access and data gives Reliance an advantage in pricing and buying crops directly from the farmer through the JioKrishi app. Reliance can then supply its over 11,000 stores that sells groceries, or store crops for sale at a later date, or export crops for higher prices on the international market.
The new farm bills seem to have taken JioKrishi into consideration, as they reference the term “electronic trading platform” almost 20 times but provide little regulation for it – simply saying they should follow “fair trade practices.”
The farm bills create a clear path for JioKrishi to scale into the farming sector, and the funding from Facebook and Google helps. Together, the two companies own nearly 20% of Jio Platforms.
The investment with politically connected Reliance was especially strategic for Facebook, who has been struggling for years to get WhatsApp payments past India’s regulatory hurdles. But just two months after making the investment in Jio Platforms, Facebook received notification that WhatsApp payments was compliant with regulations on June 5.
Conveniently, the three farm bills became ordinances the same day – June 5.
JioKrishi integrates heavily with WhatsApp payments as the primary method of communicating and facilitating payments with farmers, giving Facebook an immediate foothold in a market worth billions (USD).
The funding and tech from Facebook & Google will help Reliance create a platform perfectly structured for an unregulated sector to exploit a vulnerable population – farmers.
Image and blog post by Ekta Punjab. For more, follow @ektapunjab on Instagram.