Indian startup culture has now become world-renowned. According to the statistics of NASSCOM, India has moved to 3rd position in number of startups with the fastest growing base of startups worldwide. It also predicts that the pace of startup launches will increase to 6-7 every day by 2020. India has the strongest knowledge and workforce base with 2/3rd of the population under the age of 35. The fact that there is 1 entrepreneur for every 150,000 Indians itself ascertains a bright future.
Now that I already have your attention, let me move on to the main topic of discussion.
Agriculture is the soul of Indian economy. It is one of the major revenue creating sectors on which several other sectors that create revenue to the country’s economy is dependent. It is the source of livelihood for the whole set of rural population in the country. But, due to lack of proper agricultural literacy and unawareness about the research and technological advancements, farmers in India are still sticking to traditional farming methods and are unable to manage farming during adverse climatic conditions. This is the crucial point which attracted the tech-savvies to step into the field of agriculture, where they have a great scope and umpteen opportunities. They started analyzing the current situation of agriculture by looking out for current needs and flaws, and are mapping them with their area of expertise, in order to develop solutions. It has now become an era where the Old meets the New. The following are some of the trending startups in the field of Agriculture, which are working along the lines of developing solutions that is helping the farming community:
Agrihub is an agriculture-specific online discovery platform, which was founded in 2016. It provides product information about various brands present in the market, in the areas of conventional and hi-tech agriculture. The company strives to inculcate the e-commerce culture to empower information for Indian farmers and agribusiness professionals. It is a platform which is meant to connect farmers, distributors, retailers and professionals, to develop an open and collaborative atmosphere.
Agrostar is an m-commerce platform which aims in connecting directly to farmers through which they can fetch help regarding various farming activities, by simply giving a missed call to Agrostar’s platform which can be eventually accessed through their mobile app. It is headquartered at Pune, and is currently operating in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
- Digital Green
Digital Green is founded by Rikin Gandhi, who developed a project to educate farmers in the form of simple videos starring local farmers themselves. While working with Microsoft Research team, he acknowledged that video approach is more influential and cost-effective among rural communities, as an information dissemination and advocacy tool, than the traditional extension system which is limited, in terms of reach and relevance of content. The potential for knowledge sharing among small-scale farmers and its impact in terms of increased productivity and well-being of the community has encouraged him.
Stellapps was founded by Ranjith Mukundan and team, who developed automated dairy solutions to overcome the problems in dairy management, including that milk stored in regular containers become non-consumable after a few hours. Mukundan got the idea when he realized the hardship faced in managing cattle and the supply chain, by his uncle, who is an organic dairy farmer in Tiptur, near Bengaluru. The team now works with milk cooperative societies such as Aavin, Milma and Tirumala. Its products are currently circulated in 250 farms and are used by three lakh dairy farmers.
- Flybird Farm Innovations
Flybird Farm Innovations is a Bengaluru-based start-up, whose project is based on placing sensors in the soil to detect moisture content and control irrigation. It has installed sensors in 45 villages in Karnataka to help farmers in the drought-hit state optimize irrigation. The company is supported by Chennai-based Villgro, a social impact fund backed by Dell Foundation.
- Farming Colors
Farming Colors is a portal that allows users to purchase fresh organic produce straight from the growers, which was created by Kochi based entrepreneurs Akash Mathew and Jim George. Through this venture, they have identified a group of farmers in the famous South-Indian hill-stations of Coonoor, Wayanad and Munnar, who have more than 10 years’ experience in organic cultivation and are certified in producing quality yield in their farms. They provide link between these farmers and the consumers.
Skymet Weather Services develops technologies and instruments to measure weather and agriculture. It was founded by Jatin Singh in 2003 and is headquartered at Noida, India. The company is involved in weather monitoring, prediction and providing Agri-risk solutions. It has built solutions for diverse communities like small and marginal farmers, insurance companies, energy companies, urban dwellers, governments and international NGOs. Skymet provides weather service and graphics to most of Indian media companies in India, like Zee News, Aaj Tak, Mint, Times Now and ABP.
A strong funding is essential for any startup to attain or retain stability. The agri-funds in the country are mostly early stage investments, and the startups are struggling to raise subsequent rounds of funding, thus, prolonging their scale up. Most investors don’t understand agriculture. The strong government intervention in the sector along with the unexpected and inexplicable nature effects emphasizes the business risks associated with startups. Despite the need for technological intervention, there’s not much funding coming to startups in this sector. Funding for Indian agriculture startups declined to $56 million in 2015 from $123 million the year before, according to data from Tracxn, a startup activity tracking platform. However, there are venture capital firms that invests in startups from India, developing breakthrough technologies for food and agriculture. Omnivore Partners is one of the prominent firms which is actively involved in helping create, build and scale new agri-tech startups. The above mentioned companies including Stellapps and Skymet are the companies that are being financially supported by Omnivore Partners. Investors should start trusting in agri-startups and provide financial support with the noble deed of helping the farming community.
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