These agritech startups managed to raise funding despite coronavirus-led lockdown
The agricultural sector is one of the primary contributors to the Indian economy. Around 58 percent of the population’s livelihood is dependent on this sector. Over the last two months, the farm sector was badly hit by the nationwide lockdown which halted logistics and transportation. As a result, the production couldn’t reach the fruit and vegetable mandis, thus, impacting the supply chain.
But during Lockdown 2.0, the rules were eased out and a slew of measures were introduced so that this sector could survive the pandemic and the country's food supply don't get impacted.
However, the absence of delivery fleet and truck operators, restricted interstate and intrastate movement of agricultural machinery, dearth of other inputs like fertilisers, pesticides, and seeds, as well as various obstacles in the procurement of fresh produce, have disrupted the chain.
To keep the supply chains functional, agritech startups have stepped up and are helping the farmers to connect with buyers, including through retailers, ecommerce, and by even directly selling the produce to consumers. Startups working in this area include AgriBazaar, DeHaat, BigBasket, MeraKisan, Ninjacart, and many more.
With the help of Artificial Intelligence, remote sensing, data analytics, and various Internet of Thing (IoT) devices, India’s agritech startups are lending a helping hand to grow India’s agriculture economy.
As per a 2019 NASSCOM report, India is home to more than 450 agritech startups, growing at a rate of 25 percent year-on-year. The sector has received more than $248 million in funding as of June 2019, a growth of 300 percent as compared to the previous year. This is a clear indication of the agritech industry’s growth potential.
These five startups bagged funding during the lockdown:
Egg producer and agritech startup Eggoz raised Rs 2.5 crore as part of its seed funding to fuel its growth and expansion plans. The round saw the participation of investors like Tracxn Labs, Angellist, Tri-Deep Capital, founders of Letstransport, and angel investors, along with existing investors — Narendra Sankar, Sunil Mishra, and Vishal Sharma.
Founded in December 2017 by Abhishek Negi, Uttam Kumar, Aditya Singh, and Pankaj Pandey, Eggoz says it provides deep integration services to egg farmers at several locations in north India, using cutting-edge nutritional engineering and technology to produce eggs.
The Bihar-based startup had earlier secured Rs 1.2 crore from a clutch of angel investors.
Bengaluru-based greenhouse agritech startup Clover on Tuesday announced that it had raised Rs 7 crore in venture debt from Alteria Capital.
Clover partners with farmers across India and markets premium quality, branded, greenhouse-grown fresh produce through B2B and B2C channels.
Founded by Avinash BR, Gururaj Rao, Arvind Murali, and Santhosh Narasipura, Clover claims that its business model centres around demand-led cultivation, a managed farm network, and full-stack agronomy.
According to Avinash BR, Co-founder of Clover, “The recently closed Series A round alongside Alteria's current investment, will help us achieve our vision to reshape the supply chain for greenhouse-grown fresh produce.”
Gurugram and Patna-based agritech platform DeHaat has raised Series A funding of $12 million led by Sequoia Capital. The round saw participation from FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank, and existing investors Omnivore and AgFunder.
Shashank Kumar, Co-Founder and CEO of DeHaat, said:
“We are excited to partner with Sequoia India and FMO as we drive towards one million farmers on the DeHaat platform. Sequoia’s deep expertise in B2B platforms and technology products, combined with FMO’s expertise in agricultural value chain financing, will help DeHaat accelerate its growth while delivering massive impact for the farmers we work with.”
Currently serving over 210,000 farmers across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Odisha, DeHaat provides access to over 3,000 agricultural inputs, combined with AI-based customised crop advisory content of pest and disease management for major crops delivered via mobile app and call centres.
The platform also aggregates corn, wheat, rice, fruits, and vegetables from farmers on their network, and directly supplies to over 200 commodity bulk buyers, including retail chains, ecommerce players, FMCG giants, and SME food processors.
Gurugram-based Intello Labs raised $5.9 million in Series A funding led by Saama Capital in May 2020.
The agritech startup digitises quality across fresh produce supply chains, reducing food waste by detecting variance from specifications and matching output to needs.
Milan Sharma, Co-founder and CEO, Intello Labs, said, this funding will help the startup accelerate growth in international markets, specifically the US and across Asia-Pacific.
B2B trade platform serving the agricultural sector, Bijak, in April, raised $11.8 million in its Series A round from its existing investors, including Omnivore Partners, and Tempo Ventures, Bi Fund, among others.
Founded in May 2019 by Nukul Upadhye, Mahesh Jakhotia, Jitender Bedwal, Daya Rai, and Nikhil Tripathi, Bijak aims to bridge the information asymmetry and lack of accountability across trade in agricultural activities. It enables traders, wholesalers, and food processors to keep a ledger of their transactions, access transparent pricing, optimise logistics, and improve their working capital cycles.
The company's proprietary app is available in several local languages, and currently caters to the country's agricultural states such as Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, and Uttarakhand.
Edited by Kanishk Singh