Bengaluru-based agri-tech startup, Utkal Tubers (Utkal), on Thursday said it has raised strategic funding of Rs 10 crore (or $1.44 million) from international potato breeding and seed potato production firm IPM Potato Group Limited (IPM).
IPM is a subsidiary of Donegal Investment Group plc and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.
Set up in 2017, Utkal had raised $4.6 million from CapAleph Indian Millennium SME Fund and Zephyr Peacock India Fund in May 2017.
Utkal is a lab-to-land innovation company engaged in potato research, cultivation and marketing. Operating in seven states across India, and the partnership with IPM will allow Utkal to license an extensive portfolio of new potato varieties with improved disease resistance and high yield potential, as well as bring in high yielding varieties of potato seeds suited to Indian climatic conditions.
The company said in a statement that access to good quality seed potatoes and improved varietal genetics is a key challenge that Indian farmers face. The average yield of potato crops in India is low in comparison to other major potato producing countries, and just under half the average yield compared to Europe.
Utkal is working to improve access to good quality seed potatoes at an affordable price through variety innovation and significant investment in high grade seed production with modern aeroponic facilities. Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil.
Abhijeet Kudva, Managing Director, Zephyr Peacock India, said, “India is ranked second in potato production. About 90 percent of the potatoes are grown in just four states - Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Punjab. Farmers from other states typically have to pay 30-40 percent premium to access potato seeds in time. Utkal is addressing this need through research and developing new technologies.”
The introduction of new varieties from IPM will offer farmers improvements in yields, disease resistance and overall profitability.
Marcel de Sousa, IPM Director said,
“We believe Utkal is well positioned to transform the potato value chain in India. The introduction of new potato varieties will add value for the farmer through improved yields and better resistance to drought and disease. Utkal’s streamlined operations and strong management team make them like-minded partners for us in the Indian market.’’
Utkal claims to be among the first companies to successfully produce seed potatoes in Gujarat and Assam, opening up new potential for improving access and availability of good quality seed potatoes.