Indian Agri Start-ups Heads Towards USD 10 Billion
By 2050, the global population is forecasted to reach 10 billion, which makes it critical to find disruptive solutions to fulfill future requirements of food, feed, fuel and factory, and sustain the livelihoods of Small Holder Farmers (SHFs). Indian farmers are predominantly SHFs and there are more than 40 critical farming activities that need attention and informed decision making to ensure a good yield and appropriate return on investment.
Agri-tech startups (Agritechs) have been playing an important role in harnessing the potential of disruptive technologies to support farmers in reaching better scale, systems and sustainability. Global investment in AgriTech start-ups stood at USD 91.5 billion till Q1 2021, and the last two years accounted for 51% of the investments.
Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary (DARE) & Director General, ICAR, Government of India recently emphasised that nurturing agriculture innovations is imperative for agricultural development. Innovations played a key role in the green and white revolution.
Addressing the 4th edition of ‘FICCI Agri Startup Summit & Awards’, Dr Mohapatra said, “The evolving technologies and agri innovations are to be mainstreamed and deployed in the fields.” Dr Mohapatra further said that we also need to incubate the start-ups and entrepreneurs, and this is critical to address the challenges of agriculture and allied sectors. There is a lot of opportunity to link farmers to the market and startups have huge potential in this area. Dr Mohaptra mentioned that there has to be efficiency, climate resilience and high productivity with quality and we need more and more players to be part of it. “Partnership and collaboration are key in today’s world to take agriculture to the next level,” he added.
Neelkamal Darbari, MD, Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC), Govt of India said that the timing is apt to leverage technologies for the small and marginal farmers. The government has already launched the e-NAM (National Agriculture Market) which is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities. “The government has already integrated 1,000 mandis and 1.72 crore farmers are already registered with the portal along with 2 lakh traders. The next step will be to integrate 1,000 more mandis with the portal,” she added.
She further stated that the government is also planning to create a platform of platforms. This will link up all the portals available in the country for all activities related to the farming sector. This will also create greater synergy for the farmers to reduce the cost of operations and improve pricing for the product. “The entire value chain will come together on this platform of platforms,” stated Ms Darbari.
Hemendra Mathur, Chairman, FICCI Task Force on Agri Start-ups & Technology & Venture Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund said that Indian AgriTech is entering its third phase, which will be driven by increasing farmer adoption of new-age innovations and a significant degree of consolidation in the start-up space.
T R Kesavan, Chairman, FICCI National Agriculture Committee & Group President, TAFE Ltd said that FICCI Awards for agriculture start-up has emerged as a leading platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their potential. He further mentioned that in the last few years, we have seen young entrepreneurs coming up with ideas, innovations and business models to support farmers and help them achieve scale and sustainability.
Vivek Chandra, CEO, Global Branded Business, LT Foods Ltd said that Agri Start-ups will play a crucial role in bringing in the required technology and innovation needed to meet the increasing demand for food as the world population grows.
Ashok Varma, Partner, PwC said that at present, there are more than 700 AgriTech start-ups in India that are developing customised solutions and products to make the agricultural value chain more profitable and remunerative. With an impressive inflow of funding, more than 48% of AgriTech CEOs in the country believe that they will have the next AgriTech unicorn within a three-year time frame.
Amit Mundawala, Managing Director and Co-founder, Star Agribazaar Technology Pvt. Ltd highlighted that Agritech companies can play an important role in enhancing farmers’ income. This can be achieved if we have a proper database of all the parameters needed in remote sensing resulting in accurate farmer advisory services which will in-turn increase the yield, reduce the input cost, and make proposition win-win for all stakeholders.
India is next only to the US and China in terms of AgriTech funding and has secured cumulative investments worth over USD 1.5 billion in the last ten years, exhibiting a growth of 14x starting from USD 45 million in 2011. India houses more than 700 AgriTech start-ups that are providing customised solutions and products to make the agricultural value chain more profitable and remunerative. The future potential for AgriTech start-ups in India is immense while navigating the ‘USD 10 billion and beyond’ journey. The Government of India has been presenting its deep commitment to bring policy reforms in agriculture and allied sectors to further bolster the agri startup ecosystem.