Tasked with solving international water security problems through The Acara Institue business plan competition in 2010, MyRain was inspired by the potential to increase the reach and effectiveness of modern drip irrigation systems.
There are an estimated 40 million small-plot farmers (2-10 acres) across rural India, 95% of which rely on traditional flood irrigation, despite the advent of such improved methods.
“Drip irrigation can increase efficiency of water and fertilizer by between 20%-50% and increase yields by 30%-100%,” Lorenz says. “But training the farmers directly was too long and arduous to scale fast enough.”
What he found through firsthand research was an education and distribution problem. The farmers naturally wanted to improve their process using drip irrigation, but they didn’t know how to start or exactly what equipment to buy in what quantity.
To that extent, MyRain provides small plot farmers with ready access to drip irrigation by creating a virtual retail and distribution network focused on the four main tenets of accessibility: education, availability, price and service.
“We’re taking the complexity out of the drip irrigation design process using mobile technology tools,” he explains. “It’s about bringing critical drip resources to them faster and easier.”
Dealers of drip irrigation systems use MyRain’s mobile workflow Rainmaker app with their farming customers to insert specific plot variables such as the area, crop patterns and system pressure. On the spot, it provides complete bill of materials and a blueprint design for local plumbers to install. The hook for MyRain is the way they leverage this pre-existing distribution network of dealers who use their device + app to both educate and sell simultaneously.
“We’re early in the scaling process but we’ve already reduced a 6 month drip irrigation design training program to about an hour which allows us to talk to and empower exponentially more dealers. As we continue to add more dealers to the app, the access that small plot farmers have grows and our impact increases,” says Lorenz, who will be heading to Tamil Nadu, India this month to make it rain.