Meet the startups bringing low-cost solutions to the agriculture sector
Over 60 percent of the land across India come under cultivation, with the agriculture sector contributing 18 percent to the country’s GDP. But despite its significant role in India’s economy, the sector is riddled with issues, from low-grade farming equipment to chemical-infused aids, and lack of water availability.
While the government is doing its bit, entrepreneurs have also ventured into the agriculture sector. From effective machines to low-cost organic fertilizers, here are a few startups in the agricultural sector making a mark with their offerings:
Oxen Farm Solutions
Owning a farmland isn’t the only requirement for farming; one needs labour, fertilizers, machinery, and natural resources, like water. Among these, labour has been always been an expensive and time-consuming factor. To address this dilemma, Pune-based Oxen Farm Solution is providing solutions through large-scale mechanisation.
Founded by IIT Kanpur alumni Vishwajeet Sinha, the startup provides innovation and advanced technology to farmers at an efficient and pay-per-use farming-as-a-service (FaaS) model, much like the service provided by cab aggregators like Ola and Uber.
Through the startup’s interface in the form of a mobile-based application, farmers can place their requirements for crop cultivation. Once placed, the machine owner gets the information and rents their service to the farmer through an affordable and transparent price mechanism.
“We reduce labour costs by up to 50 percent for the farmers. This means farmers love us and we have to make minimal effort in sales and marketing.”
This Mumbai-based startup offers an AI-based vision system to grade and sort fruits and vegetables based on size, colour, shape, and surface quality. Founded by Kshitij Thakur and Vinayak Ghosale with Nikhil Pandey as a team member, the startup aims to provide uniform and continuous quality checks for every product in real time.
“We aim to bring current costs down from the present price. With our technology, the accuracy is 98 percent, and it takes one-fifth of the time required in the manual process used now,” Kshitij says. On the market status, he explains, “We started by interviewing over 20 agribusinesses including exporters, FPOs, and food processing companies to identify the problem statement of grading and sorting in fruits and vegetables.”
Pune startup Agri10x eliminates middlemen in the farming trade to ensure farmers receive a fair price for their produce, and on time.
The blockchain-powered startup provides a decentralised platform that creates a transparent ecosystem, which gives farmers more autonomy, and they can directly trade with the buyers without losing any of their actual earnings to intermediaries.
Founded by Pankajj Ghode, Abhijith Naraparaju, and Sundeep Bose in 2016, Agri10x charges a trading fee of six to 10 percent, which is equally divided between farmers and traders. With a decentralised approach, both parties save a large amount of money, which would otherwise be spent on intermediaries.
Founded by Nikhil Bohra in 2015, Krimanshi converts food and agricultural waste into low-cost feed and fodder for dairy farmers. Within the last four years, the startup has helped over 500 farmer households across Rajasthan to increase milk production and reduce veterinary costs.
With a view to develop cost-effective solutions to feed the burgeoning livestock population in the country, Nikhil puts together a collection system to gather fruit and vegetable waste from juice shops and local markets in Jodhpur by paying a nominal amount.
This waste is then transported to Krimanshi’s processing units in Jodhpur or Jaipur. Certain salts are then added to process the waste, absorb all the moisture, and stop bacterial activity. The resulting mixture is pulverised and made into a powder-like form. The conversion of these fine grains into feed (in the form of pellets) is outsourced to external manufacturers in Jodhpur.
The finished product is sold to local distributors who in turn give them away to dairy farmers in Rajasthan for 10 percent lesser than the market price.
Tauseef Khan and Nishant Mahatre, who were batchmates at both IIT-Kharagpur and IIM-Ahmedabad, founded Gramophone, an agritech startup, which brings timely information and inputs required to achieve better yield for farmers.
Farmers can further access localised practice, crop advisory on the best products to grow, and weather information. This helps them to not only improve productivity, but also sustainably increase their income from agriculture.
Input Planning helps farmers understand their land better by facilitating soil testing and crop nutrition management. The Support & Advisory function aims to reduce information asymmetry by giving advisory weather and mandi prices to the farmers.
Quality enables farmers to procure the best and most authentic products from reliable suppliers, while Availability ensures the range of products arrive in a timely manner, and that the farmers are abreast with new developments in the market. Convenience enables farmers to receive products right at their doorstep. Lastly, the Cost-effectiveness function ensures products are sold at a more competitive price than the original market price.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)