Agriculture World

Agritech startups are empowering Indian farmers in times of COVID-19

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap
Farmer

Agriculture, along with allied sectors is the primary source of income for a majority of Indian’s living in rural areas. As the population of the country is expected to grow to 1.4 billion by 2020, and the average size of land holdings is decreasing over the years, creating pressure on the already stressed agricultural industry.

The farming community is one of the worst-hit during the lockdown, with issues like severe disruptions in the supply chain of farm produce and closing down of the local mandis, markets, and transport facilities.India, with 118.7 million farmers, which accounts for more than half of its population, depends on agriculture as its primary source of income.To keep the supply chains functional, some of India’s Agritech startups are lending a helping hand to the farming community through artificial intelligence, remote sensing, data analytics, and various Internet of Thing (IoT) devices.

According to a NASSCOM report, the Indian Government specifically supports AgriTech startups through its Startup India program. In 2016, more than 350 AgriTech startups raised $300 million in investment globally, out of which Indian investment accounted for 10 percent.

Some Major Agritech Startups:

AgriBazaar

AgriBazaarfounded by Amith Agarwal, and has replicated the physical mandi (marketplace) to an e-mandi aggregator model, through which once a farmer registers and uploads his produce; buyers can place orders for the purchase. Once the deal is complete, AgriBazaar facilitates the logistics of picking up the produce from the farmer’s doorsteps and delivering it to the buyers’ warehouse. AgriBazaar also helps buyers fromMNCs to small-scale industries with better price discoveryand sellers with more targeted marketing of their produce. It charges a transaction fee from buyers, while farmers can sell their produce at no additional cost.

NinjaCart

This Agritech startup was founded by ThirukumaranNagarajan, AshutoshVikram, Kartheeswaran KK, Sachin Jose, and SharathLoganathan in July 2015, with its headquartering in Bengaluru. NinjaCart provides an Agri-marketing platform that lets the farmers sell their fresh produce directly to retailers, restaurants. It helps provide better prices for the farmers and a constant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables for the retailers and restaurants.Till date, Ninjacart has raised $164.2 million from Tiger Global Management, Accel, Qualcomm Ventures and Steadview Capital.

Crofarm

This Agritech startup provides a supply chain solution, by bringing farmers and businesses on a common platform, making it easier for businesses to procure and fetching higher prices for the farmers. Gurugram-based Crofarm was founded by Varun Khurana and Prashant Jain in 2016.

Overall, the startup has raised a total of $2.8 million from a clutch of marquee investors like RajanAnandan, Managing Director of Sequoia Capital, LetsVenture, Pravega Ventures, among others.The company is working with 500+ partner resellers across Delhi-NCR and is already serving over 50,000 consumers. Through its robust end-to-end supply chain network, the best of the farm products is brought to consumers via social commerce model and the fresh produce reaches the doorstep in less than 12 hours.

Farmer

Waycool

Waycool provides supply chain solutions from procuring food products from farmers, moving the products in GPS-enabled trucks, to delivering the product to clients. This Chennai-based startup was founded by KarthikJayaraman and Sanjay Dasari in 2015. So far, Waycool has raised a total of $60.8 million from investors like Aspada, Lightbox, FMO and InnoVen Capital.

FarmLink

FarmLink provides end-to-end supply chain for fruits and vegetable by leveraging technology to reduce food wastage. It was founded by Akshaya Kamath and SreeramChellappa in 2014, with its headquartering in Mumbai.It had last raised $3 million in seed funding from Pioneering Ventures and Syngenta in November 2017.

Unnati

Founded by industry veterans Ashok Prasad and Amit Sinha, Unnati’s app gives access to Agri finance, knowledge support, choice of inputs, tracking farm lifecycle and access to buyers. The company’s predictive farming model acts as a guide for farmers, allowing them to make informed decisions regarding key aspects such as plant protection, weed management, nutrient usage, maximising output, and predicting market conditions, essentially setting them up for unparalleled success. Driven by data, the brand helps convert farmers into entrepreneurs by handholding them through every stage of the farming cycle with services such as working capital, purchasing the right seeds, nutrients and pesticides for crops, harvesting, and selling the crops.

AgroWave

Gurugram-based AgroWave was founded by IIT Delhi alumnus AnuMeena in 2017. This startup aims to transform the farmer’s lives by optimising the supply chain solution by incorporating technology. It provides complete logistics support to farmers by connecting them with various businesses and help deliver their products to those customers on time.

CropIn

Founded in 2010 by Krishna Kumar and Co-founderKunal Prasad, it helps organisations map the supply chain and increase the productivity level of the farmer.CropIn Technology Solutions provides smart SaaS-based solutions to agribusinesses globally, to maximise productivity.

Arya Collateral

Delhi-based Agri-tech startup by Prasanna Rao, Co-founder and CEO of Arya Collateral, it is among a few Indian startups whose business performance turned out to be positive amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Farm Taaza

The startup provides fresh produce supply chain solutions by ensuring the quality of fruits and vegetables as per its clients through a carefully tailored packaging process, along with providing competitive prices for farmers. Farm Taaza was founded by Kumar Ramachandran, along with other Silicon Valley veterans in 2015, with its headquartering in Bengaluru.This Agritech startup last raised $8 million in series A round led by Epsilon Venture Partners, along with IL&FS Investment Managers’ Tara India Fund IV in October 2017.

KrishiHub

Bengaluru-based Agritech startup KrishiHub was founded by Bhoopendra Kumar and JyotiskaKhasnabish in 2016. It provides an AI-powered, data-driven supply chain management platform to reduce wastage and enable farmers to fetch better prices, along with ensuring a daily doorstep delivery of fresh vegetables to its clients.The startup raised an undisclosed amount of funds IIT Kanpur INVENT accelerator and Villgro Innovation Fund in November 2017.

Agriculture is one of the most hyped and yet the most untapped sectors with an immense potential to change the current standards of the Indian economy.Agriculture is the backbone of the country. With over 70 percent of Indian households still dependant on farming, the sector holds a huge potential for Agritech startups. Today, a farmer rarely knows where his produce ends up, or how. With global warming and scarcity of water, he is protesting for sustainable practices and more support from the government.

The Modi government, in its manifesto for the elections, promised to double a farmer’s income by 2022. In the recent budget too, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharamanemphasised on “Gaon, GaribAurKisan” is the government’s agenda. She too promised to invest in agriculture, and was reported to have said, “We will support private entrepreneurship in driving value addition to farmers’ produce from the field and for those from allied activities, like bamboo and timber from the hedges, and for generating renewable energy.”

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