[Startup Bharat] How these agritech firms are coming up with solutions to empower farmers from small towns

Agritech startups are using modern methods to enhance farming, making technology accessible to farmers, and also helping them improve their lives.
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India holds the second-largest agricultural land in the world with about 60 percent of rural Indian households making their living from agriculture. However, despite enormous importance to the sector, it is still struggling with a variety of issues like the use of outdated equipment, improper infrastructure, and farmers unable to access a wide range of markets with ease and only making limited profits on crop sales.

In a bid to improve their livelihood and solve these challenges, agritech startups are trying to provide information to the farming community, improve their farming techniques, and help farmers become more efficient.

According to a report by EY, the Indian agritech market has the potential to reach $24 billion by 2025. 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. These companies are increasingly empowering 150 million-odd farmers with data-led systems.

YourStory lists five such startups from Tier II and Tier III cities that aim to empower farmers with advanced solutions.

Farmkart

With an aim to make agri-inputs affordable and accessible to farmers, Atul Patidar launched Farmkart in 2017. Barwani-based Farmkart is an ecommerce platform that enables farmers to purchase modern agricultural products like fertilisers, pesticides, and seeds at affordable prices.

The startup also enables farmers to get agricultural equipment - from sickle to cultivator - on rent through its rent4farm services from certified suppliers.

Farmkart team [Image Credit: Farmkart]

Atul claims Farmkart can deliver products to rural and remote places, including areas that are not yet serviced by ecommerce majors in India, within 24-36 hours.

Farmkart was selected as part of the Top 50 Global Innovative Startups in 2018 by Startup Grind, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs. The startup was also mentioned and appreciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 70th edition of ‘Mann Ki Baat’.

Apart from providing ecommerce services, Farmkart also provides end-to-end-consultancy to farmers to help them understand how they can leverage technology to improve their produce. According to the founder, farmers can call the official number and take advice from agronomists.

Atul adds that the startup has raised Rs 15 crore in seed funding from undisclosed investors and is now looking to raise its Series A funds next year.

Read the full story here 

AgriVijay 

Founded in 2020 by Vimal Panjwani along with his mother and retired government officer Shobha Chanchlani, AgriVijay offers farmers and rural families a wide range of renewable energy equipment tailored to their needs and infrastructure set-up.

The Pune-based startup is an aggregator, which offers several products such as biogas gensets, solar-powered water pumps, solar energy inverters, and solar water heaters to suit the specific energy needs of customers.

The startup sells mainly through its website, call centre, and social media channels. Farmers can also buy the products from the startup’s offline stores in villages. The prices for the solar and biogas energy equipment ranges from Rs 9,000 to Rs 35,000.

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Rise Hydroponics 

Founded in April 2020 by Tusshar Aggarwal, Meet Patel, and Vivek Shukla, Rise Hydroponics provides end-to-end soil-less farming solutions and is involved in developing both outdoor and indoor hydroponic farm projects.

The Ahmedabad-based agritech startup claims to have built a 12,000+ sq ft commercial hydroponics farm in Bhiwandi, which is expected to be operational soon. Apart from this, it has also built an indoor vertical hydroponics farm in Worli, Mumbai.

Rise Hydroponics claims to have completed over 20 projects in 13 cities, including Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Gurugram, and Jamnagar. 

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Agrifeeder 

Founded in 2017 by ​​Rounak Kumar, Raman Kumar, and Priya Pandey, Agrifeeder is empowering farmers by training them about new technologies, farming techniques, providing good quality seeds and fertilisers to pre-harvest marketing and post-harvest management.

Agrifeeder supports farmers in five main aspects -- storage facilities, purchase of grains and fertilisers, farming training and assistance, implementation of organic farming, and financial assistance.

The Bihar-based startup provides training to farmers on farming techniques, the correct use of chemicals and fertilisers to improve productivity, and also on deciding on prices of the produce. It is also training farmers to produce their own organic fertilisers and encouraging them to take up organic farming.

In January this year, it raised seed fund from the Government of Bihar under Startup Bihar Policy. Currently, Agrifeeder is working with 80 farmers across Bihar.

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Saptkrishi

Bhagalpur-headquartered agritech startup Saptkrishi has developed Sabjikothi or Preservator, a wheel-mountable, microclimate-based storage solution that is cost-effective, portable, and extends the shelf life of fruits and vegetables from three days to 30 days.

Founded in 2019 by Nikky Kumar Jha along with his sister Rashmi Jha, Saptkrishi is at present being accelerated at IIT-Kanpur. It was earlier incubated at IIT-Patna and has been doing paid pilot trials through various public and private collaborations such as with the Indian government, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and consulting firm Microsave.

Nikky says the USP lies in the fact that it is a zero-chemical, non-cooling, and completely green technology priced at Rs 10,000. “It is a valuable one-time investment and will last multiple harvest seasons. It increases the RoI for farmers and traders, and opens new opportunities and bigger markets,” he says.

The siblings raised funding of Rs 10 lakh for research and development via Nidhi Prayas with IIT-Kanpur, which will come in multiple tranches. They have received a similar grant from IIT-Patna as well. The startup has raised a pre-seed round of Rs 15 lakh from Invent, Villgro, and several awards and grants of undisclosed amounts to make Sabjikothi market-ready.

Read the full story here 

Edited by Megha Reddy

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