Prime Minister Narendra Modi in one of his speeches explained the dire need for Farm laws. He explained how the division of land or low landholding, lack of modern technology, lack of investment, and high-interest loans have plagued the agricultural sector of India. The Prime Minister emphasized the need to remove barriers for our farmers, create an open market for them, and encouraged investment in the agricultural sector by enhancing logistics and technology.
However, the Indian Agriculture sector is now witnessing an increased interest from the startups who are working on multiple fronts to enhance the sector. From developing the farm to fork model, to offering advanced logistics to consulting the farmers on various fronts, Indian agri-startups are sensing a boom in the industry.
As per a report in Inc42, the Indian Agritech market is expected to touch $24.1 Billion by 2025. India’s Agritech startups clocked just $204 Mn in 2020 which shows this segment is largely untapped and with the right push it has the potential to grow manifold.
An article in Analytics India magazine by Shraddha Goled had listed some of the major startups helping farmers weed out the middlemen and directly sell produce at desirable rates in the open market.
Mumbai-based company AgriBazaar, started in 2016, is an online platform that helps farmers connect with traders, banks, enterprises, and governments. The company offers a digital platform for small farmers and merchants to directly sell and buy farm produce without the involvement of middlemen. The farmers receive payment directly in their bank accounts via AgriBazaar’s e-wallet, AgriPay. The startup also provides last-mile logistical support to the farmers to boost their sales along with services such as crop advisory, warehousing, and quality testing.
This startup is conquering every relevant segment of the agribusiness. NCR-headquartered Crofarm was founded by former Grofers executives in 2016, CroFarm is dedicated to creating a demand-driven and tech-enabled supply chain in India. A farm-to-business supply chain startup, Crofarm delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to both online and offline retailers after procuring them directly from the farmers.
Currently, there are more than 5,000 retailers and over 10,000 farmers in their network. The startup uses an AI-based demand prediction system to study the data to make procurements and tracks inventory by its shelf life, which sends an alert in case the procurement is ageing. To be able to facilitate the farmers and customers better, Crofarm uses communication tools built on WhatsApp to manage customer interactions.
Apart from taking farmers and their produce to institutions, DeHaat also provided expert advisory to farmers. DeHaat is an Agritech platform that provides end-to-end agricultural solutions and is a marketplace for farmers to sell their produce to large institutional buyers directly without the involvement of any commissioning agents. Again, the company ensures last-mile connectivity for easy logistics and storage services. In positive news, DeHaat has assisted farmers on its clientele to achieve a 20% increase in prices. DeHaat is also using advanced data technologies to improve production efficiency and offers consultations to farmers on choosing the correct crop, soil health, suitable fertilizers and pesticides to be used, right time for harvesting the produce, and more.
Farmpal’s story is rather fascinating and convincing of the fact that access to the open market is essential for farmers. Karan Hon, the owner of the Agritech startup grew up in a family of marginal farmers in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district and would accompany his father to the local mandi in the evenings to sell fruits and vegetables while in school. In an interview with YourStory, Karan said, “But we always returned disappointed because our crops never got the price they deserved, and sometimes it was hard to make ends meet”. To ensure no other farmer endures the same exploitation, after a two-decade-long career, he developed an app-based platform that registers orders directly from buyers and transfers the orders to its network of 1,000+ farmers. Farmpal’s price comparison feature ensures that farmers can sell their produce at rates higher by 20 to 30 percent than what they would normally get in the mandis.
Farmers Fresh Zone
The Agritech startup Farmers Fresh Zone is founded by an engineer who hails from an agricultural family. In line with the trend of fresh, chemical-free, and organic food, the startup through its omnichannel presence, has connected over 1,500 farmers to urban consumers to date who now have access to safe-to-eat, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables directly.
Founded in 2016, KrishiHub, procures fresh vegetables directly from farmers and delivers them to business establishments such as restaurants, and hostels and canteens. Using an AI-powered supply chain to undertake farm-to-doorstep delivery, they help determine the best route for delivery agents to ensure delivery within 12 hours. Just like DeHaat, KrishiHub offers additional services such as machine learning-enabled weather forecasting, precision agriculture using satellite, regional language-supported discussion forums for the farmers.
Bengaluru-based NinjaCart procures fresh produce from the farmers and delivers it to retail stores in 12 hours. To ensure transparency, every supply can be traced back to its source. NinjaCart is working to take control of the supply chain to solve asymmetries, inefficiencies, and disorganization in a traditional system. The startup claims to provide better prices and consistent demands to farmers. Currently working with businesses in 7 major cities, NinjaCart is also listed on popular food delivery platforms.
With increased investment and innovation in the Agri startup segment, companies are working towards providing varied solutions such as advisory, finance, technology and training to farmers, especially in the rural segment. With the Digital India movement and easy accessibility to the internet, the companies are able to reach more and more small farmers in the far off agrarian lands.