Since the Indus Valley Civilisation, agriculture has been the lifeline of India. We have 70% of Indian households still dependent on farming, contributing 17–18% to the country's GDP, according to the latest report.
This creates a huge scope of agri-tech startups for India's farmers who are striving against unreliable climate changes, water scarcity, price hike, and many other problems.
What are Agri Tech Startups?
AgriTech is the concept of applying modern technologies to the agricultural sector with a view of enhancing and producing with efficiency and generating sufficient revenue to support livelihoods. The concept extends to any kind of applications, practices, products, and services that enhance any aspect, whether input or output, of the agricultural process.
Why the need for AgriTech Startups?
Today's farmer faces a lot of challenges to sustain his livelihood through farming. Malpractices in the unorganized agricultural markets and the absence of organized marketing systems for production are becoming a major concern for Indian farmers. Moreover, they have to deal with poor transportation and storage sevices and much more. They have a limited access to superior technology to get timely information and agricultural solutions which leaves them vulnerable and all by themselves.
AgriTech startups have the potential to address these challenges from the very beginning, and subsequently change the face of Indian agriculture. They are the knights in shining armor for Indian farmers.
Encouragement for AgriTech Startups by the Indian Government.
The Modi Government has been dynamically making policies to improve farmers’ lives in India. In fact, the government has promised its citizens to double the incomes of farmers by the end of 2022.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also said that the government will support new entrepreneurs in driving value addition to farmers’ produce from the field.
The NITI Aayog is collaborating with companies like IBM to pilot technology-driven solutions for the agriculture sector in order to provide real-time advice to the farmers. As a result, artificial intelligence is being used to develop crop-yield protection models.
Growth of AgriTech startups
The Agri-tech sector is a fast-growing sector with great potential to benefit Indian agriculture and eventually raise farmers' incomes. Currently, India has given birth to 450 agri-tech startups and is reported to grow by 25% every year by NASSCOM.
A wave of Agri-tech startups has emerged in the last few years in India. They are now able to solve agricultural problems such as the use of outdated equipment, supply chain management, lack of proper infrastructure, and farmers unable to access a wider range of markets with ease.
According to the latest report, over 3.23 billion dollars were invested in the agriculture sector worldwide. Of this, 53 Indian agritech startups raised 313 million dollars. This is a huge breakthrough for Indian startups and these figures will inspire young entrepreneurial minds of our country to seek in the direction of agricultural technology.
Indian States Focused on Agritech Startups
Although all states are aware of the importance of agritech startups for agriculture to flourish, some states have actually established startup ecosystem hubs. Karnataka and Maharashtra together account for almost 50 percent of the total agritech start-ups opened in the past 5 years in the whole country.
Although Gujarat has a low share in agritech startups, but according to the State Startup Ranking Report 2018 published by The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), it is the best-performing state in the Indian agritech startup ecosystem hub.
Some successful Agritech startups established in India
1) Ecozen Solutions
Based in Pune, this agritech startup was founded in 2010 by Devendra Gupta, Prateek Singhal, and Vivek Pandey. It focuses on developing technology-enabled products to strengthen the farm-to-fork value chain of perishables, with a focus on renewable energy and sustainable development.
Till now, Ecozen has developed two products so far:
- Ecofrost, a device that acts as a portable cold room that maintains a low temperature. It works on solar power.
- Ecotron, a pump controller for irrigation which also works on solar power.
According to the company, approximately 20,000 farmers in India have used their products. But the owners don't want to stop there. They are planning to enter new areas for irrigation sales and launch a new set of cold-chain products.
FreshVnF is founded by entrepreneurs Atul Kumar, Vikas Dosala, Sumit Rai, and Aashish Krishnatre in 2018. It is a Mumbai based agritech startup that uses machine learning (ML) to optimize a farm-to-fork supply chain by connecting farmers with hotels, restaurants, and cafes.
FrenshVnf is a prospering company, having recently raised 2 million dollars in a funding round led by Equanimity Ventures. It has delivered around 15 tonnes of fresh produce per day to more than 300 clients. The company now aims to provide fresh farm produce to the end customer within 16 hours of harvesting.
3) FIB-SOL Life Technologies
FIB-SOL Life Technologies was founded in 2013 by a team of post-doctoral and doctoral scholars of IIT Madras. The company's technology is focused on developing low-cost bio-fertilizers that help farmers to improve crop yield and soil quality.
The company offers three products for its customers under GEL and DROPS which provide microbial nutrients to enrich the fertility of farmlands. They are priced at Rs 420 and Rs 100, respectively.
FIB-SOL also aims to improve product shelf life for manufacturers, help suppliers stock inventory efficiently, and eventually boost farmers’ income. In May last year, the startup received Rs 1.5 crore in angel investment from Keiretsu Forum in Chennai.
Agritech startups are the need of the nation right now. More and more entrepreneurs are setting up companies in this field, grabbing the opportunity to transform the sector. The government policies are also giving thrust to these startups so that they can easily find investors. The farmers can finally look forward to better price realization now and embrace this new initiative.