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Authors

Colin Shah
Colin Shah
Shri P.R. Aqeel Ahmed
Shri P.R. Aqeel Ahmed
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar
Alok Kirloskar
Alok Kirloskar
Pragati Khare
Pragati Khare
Devang Mody
Devang Mody
Vinay Kalantri
Vinay Kalantri
Varun Aggarwal
Varun Aggarwal
Erich Nesselhauf
Erich Nesselhauf
Ghanshyam Lal Vyas
Ghanshyam Lal Vyas
Mr Siddhartha Sacheti
Mr Siddhartha Sacheti
Satish Kannan
Satish Kannan

Promising Investment Prospects in Agritech

Promising Investment Prospects in Agritech

Introduction
India is an agrarian economy where agriculture contributes 18.8% to the country's gross value added (at current prices), with almost 54.6% of the total workforce dependent on agriculture. Several segments such as retail, chemicals, packaging and e-commerce directly rely on agri output, which magnifies the sector's impact on overall economic growth. India's agriculture exports account for 12% of total merchandise exports and have crossed US$ 50 billion as of 2021–2022. However, the rise in population, presence of intermediaries and unorganised markets enables stakeholders to use modern technology in order to improve output efficiency and maximize returns. Agritech is not a new term for a country such as India­— it has the third largest start-up ecosystem in the world. The adoption of technology in agriculture is expected to solve several challenges across the dimensions of the agriculture sector.

Need for Agritech in India
Agritech adoption in India is primarily driven by consumer preference, urbanisation, climate conditions and water shortage. There have been several areas of pain points for the agriculture segment, such as volatility in input prices, limited access to technology for efficient cropping, non-availability of large-scale testing, supply chain technology, output market linkage and inability to attain financing at the right time.

The following table highlights the agritech segment and start-ups focusing on each segment :

Agritech Segment

Start-ups

Market Potential
(US$ Billion)*

Market linkage and supply chain

Ninjacart, ecozen, crofarm,farmlink,
Kisan network, Farmers fresh zone

12

Farm inputs

Bijak, DeHaat, Agrostar, mitra, Gramaphone.

2

Precision agriculture and farm management

Fasal, Cropin, Aibono,
Krishihub, Clover

3

Farming as a Service (FaaS)

Gold farm, EM3, Khethi Next,
Big Haat.com

3

Financial Services

Farmart, Ergos, Jai Kisan,
 Sammunati, CashPlow

4

Source: EY *estimate for 2025

Overview of  Agritech Funding in India
India has close to 1,300 agri start-ups that employ most of the modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and the Internet of Things (IoT). India is also the third largest in the world in terms of receiving agritech funding, according to a report by Bain & Company.

Indian Agritech Funding (in US$ Million)
India has received a total funding of US$ 1.6 billion in agritech start-ups till 2021, and the investments and growth phase had started in 2019. Agritech funding stood at  US$ 245.2 million in 2019 and increased at a CAGR of 90% to US$ 889 million as of 2021. Around US$ 305 million out of the US$ 1.6 billion funding was directed towards market linkage segment, which includes the setting up of digital marketplace for agri inputs. Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune are among the top three start-up hubs with respect to funding received. Of the total funding, late-stage dominated in volume terms with 64%, followed by Series A (21%), Series B (10%), and Seed (4%), according to an India Impact investment trend report in 2021.

Source: Inc42

Major Agritech Start-ups in India
Agritech start-ups in India have introduced promising technologies to address critical issues faced by the agriculture segment. These technologies largely include predictive analytics, crop and soil monitoring, better crop cycle and pest management. The main aim of the agritech companies is to help improve farm yields. The pandemic seems to have benefited the agritech space as investment has increased in the segment almost six times compared to 2018.

Prominent agritech start-ups in India and the funds received by them from key investors are mentioned below :

Start-up

Description

Funding to Date
(in US$ Million)

Key Investors

EM3 Agri Services

Farm mechanisation and technology services

13

Global Innovation Fund, Aspada

Aibono

Predictive analytics to improve farm yield

6

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance,
Menterra Venture Advisors

Fasal

IoT-Saas provider

10

Flipkart Leap, 3one4 Capital

Gold Farm

Farm equipment booking

3

Infuse Ventures, Mahindra Rise

Way cool

Tech-enabled supply chain

222

Lightrock, LGT Group

Crofarm

Supply chain

4

Smile Group, Ramit Sethi, Vinay Mittal

Ninjacart

B2B fresh product supply chain

367

Flipkart, Walmart, Tiger Global Management

BOHECO

Industrial hemp research

6

Ginni International

Farmlink

Supply chain

3

Pioneering Ventures, Syngenta

Intello Labs

Image matching and machine learning to measure crop quality

14

Saama Capital, SVG Ventures

Tessol

Energy-efficient refrigeration technology for cold storage

 

1Crowd, Malpani Ventures

DeHaat

End-to-end agri service provider

194

Lightrock, Sofina, Sequoia Capital India

Stellaps

Dairy management software application

37

IDH, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
Stride ventures

Jumbotail

Online marketplace

151

Invus, Alteria Capital,
 Nexus Venture Partners

Agrostar

Farm inputs

112

Accel, CDC Group, Aavishkar Venture Capital

Source: Crunchbase, Company websites

Government Initiatives
Both central and state governments play an active role in promoting agritech in the country. The Digital India programme was the primary one that has helped the rural economy connect with the world. The government has launched several initiatives and reform measures to boost farm revenue in the country, including:

  • National Agriculture Market (eNAM): This is a pan-India electronic trading platform that networks with existing mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities. The platform provides services such as commodity arrivals and prices, buy and sell trade-offs, and provision to respond to trade offers. As of 31st December 2021, more than 1.72 crore farmers & 2 lakh traders have been registered on the e-NAM platform. Moreover, 1,000 mandis of 18 states and three union territories have been integrated with the e-NAM platform.
  • India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA): An agristack system developed by the Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare will help the government introduce programmes that will help the sector and grow farmer income.
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): This government initiative covers a broad spectrum of programmes to enhance agriculture productivity by integrating sustainable technologies in the value chain. The initiative will provide information to farmers on crop management and weather forecasting.
  • National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGP-A): Under this scheme, funds are released to states(s)/union territories for those projects that involve modern technologies including AI, ML, drones and blockchain.

Promising Prospects Ahead for Agritech Investments
There has been an incremental growth in agritech start-ups in India, as total start-ups increased from 43 in 2013 to more than 1,300 as of April 2022. Funding in agritech has accelerated too from US$ 1.1 million as of 2014 to US$ 889 million in 2021. According to an EY report, the Indian agritech market potential is estimated to be around US$ 24 billion by 2025. Global venture capital firms and private equity players are interested in investing in Indian agritech companies, and funding has witnessed stellar growth despite the pandemic. Agritech firms have played a pivotal role in supporting farmers during the pandemic. Government intervention has helped the agriculture output to show positive growth during the crisis, and now, the aim is to double farm income. The Indian start-up ecosystem and the government  are already contributing and supporting farmers, but there are still promising prospects ahead for agritech in India.

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