8 Indian agritech start-ups to watch in 2021

India’s agritech market could be worth $24 billion by 2025; these are some of the businesses vying for a share.

lettuce grown in miracle gro twelve
Michael Brown / IDG

India’s agricultural industry today is going through a rollercoaster of changes, with farmers protesting new farm laws rolled out by the centre.

The industry is important to India’s economy: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO), 70 percent of India’s rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82 percent of farmers being small and marginal. To make life easier for them, agritech startups, for years now, have been working towards removing middlemen of the traditional mandi system to increase farmer profits, digitising farmer’s trade, increasing market linkages and offering crop advisories.

Despite the protests, India’s agritech startups seem to welcome the government’s new policy. The farm bills are expected to give more freedom to farmers to sell their produce and to create an open market for interstate and intrastate agricultural trade. Many farmers are seeing the benefits of collaborating with the startups, and the new farm bill is expected to strengthen their relationship.

According to a September 2020 report by EY, India’s agritech market has the potential to reach $24 billion by 2025, although only 1% is addressed today. The largest opportunity ($12 billion) is in supply chain technology and output market linkages, with another $4.1 billion of potential in financial services for farmers, $3.4 billion in precision agriculture and farm management, $3.0 billion in quality management and traceability and $1.4 billion in optimising market linkages for farm inputs.

Computerworld India has picked out some of the fastest-growing Indian startups in this agricultural sector.

Agribazaar

Year Founded: 2016

Headquarters: Delhi-NCR

CEO and co-founder: Amith Agarwal

What it does: Enables farmers to list their produce and negotiate directly with buyers, setting their own trade terms. Buyers place orders online and Agribazaar provides end-to-end logistics services from direct sourcing to timely delivery at distribution centres.

Competitors include: Clover

Customers: Growers and Consumers

Why it’s an agritech start-up to watch: Agripay, Agribazaar’s own payment platform, offers end-to-end secure transactions for buyers and sellers. The company plans to increase headcount from 150 to 500, expanding its geographical coverage from 32 cities to 75, according to co-founder and CEO Amith Agarwal. Agribazaar is using AI-driven insights and analytics for customised credit-on-a-click, crop advisory, and more. It also uses machine learning, big data, IoT and drones to disrupt conventional agri-trading.

DeHaat

Year Founded: 2012

Headquarters: Gurugram and Patna

Co-founder & CEO: Shashank Kumar

What it does: DeHaat’s app provides lets farmers know what their crops need by calling them in their local language.. It also provides them with flexibility to order farming inputs through the app and also sell their output directly to the company, removing middlemen. It uses data science, agri-science and machine learning engines to enable corporate customers to keep track of transactions, view commodity procurement pipelines and make online orders. The company has established a franchise called ‘DeHaat Center’ in rural markets where farmers can find access to all material inputs, technical advisory and market linkage for farm produce.

Competitors include: (Unnati, CropIn)

Customers: Farmers, farm inputs supplying micro-entrepreneurs and institutional buyers

Why it’s an agritech start-up to watch: In early 2021, DeHaat raised an additional $30 million in funding, and has had a 3.5x annual growth over the past two years. It created a rural retail network of more than 1,300 DeHaat micro-entrepreneurs for last-mile delivery, and serves over 3,60,000 farmers in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha.

CropIn

Year Founded: 2010

Headquarters: Bengaluru

Co-founder & CEO: Krishna Kumar

What it does: CropIn uses machine learning and big data analytics to create an interconnected ecosystem of agricultural stakeholders including seed production companies, financial institutions, crop insurance providers, agricultural inputs, and government and advisories. Its four main solutions offer farm management with harvest estimation based on satellite and weather input, crop risk assessment with alternate data for accurate decision making, traceability of the produce with SKU tagging, and end-to-end supply chain traceability.

Competitors include: Unnati, DeHaat

Customers: Farmers and other agricultural stakeholders

Why it’s an agritech start-up to watch: In early 2021, CropIn raised $20 million in funding, bringing its total raised a to $33.1 million. CDC Group named CropIn as the ‘Impact Gamechanger’ for effectively utilizing digital technologies to address farming related challenges. CropIn has won at the 3rd edition of the prestigious FICCI Agri Startup Awards 2020 in the category of ‘Award for Best Agri Startup in Application of Digital Technologies’.

Crofarm

Year Founded: 2016

Headquarters: Gurugram

Co-founder and CEO: Varun Khurana

What it does: Crofarm has a harvest-on-demand approach. From their Otipy app, they aggregate demand from consumers and businesses and then harvest from the farm accordingly, delivering the produce within 12 hours. Crofarm’s distribution center engine is AI-trained to predict demand on the basis of historical data and procurement is done accordingly. The system also keeps track of inventory by shelf life and alerts in case of any aging inventory.

Competitors include: Clover

Customers: Growers and buyers

Why it’s an agritech start-up to watch: Crofarm is still at a very early stage, raising its two rounds of funding of $1 million each in 2020.

Clover

Year Founded: 2018

Headquarters: Bangalore

Co-founders: Arvind M, Avinash B R, Gururaj S Rao and Santhosh Narasipura

What it does: Clover’s app, Deep Routed, functions as an online store for direct sales of farm produce to consumers. It offers a demand-backed supply chain for perishable food produce and enables farm management with technology-backed solutions. It advises farmers on what to grow according to the demand, while its agronomists also advise thm on how to grow.

Competitors include: Agribazaar, Crofarm, Aibono

Customers: Farmers, housing societies, consumers

Why it’s an agritech start-up to watch: Clover raised $6.5 million in two rounds in 2020. When the pandemic hit, it revised switched from a B-to-B model to a B-to-C approach, getting closer to its ultimate customers.

Aibono

Year Founded: 2014

Headquarters: Bengaluru

Founder: Vivek Rajkumar

What it does: It provides farmers with precise AI derived insights and farm intelligence on what to produce and how to produce it. It also helps retailers and consumers to source farm produce from a traceable aggregated source.

Competitors include: Clover

Customers: Farmers, Retailers and Consumers

Why it’s an agritech start-up to watch: Aibono raised $2 million in 2020.

Intello Labs

Year Founded: 2016

Headquarters: Gurugram

Co-founders & CEO: Milan Sharma

What it does: Intello Labs’ mobile app, Intello Track, helps in monitoring food quality. It enables growers to track the pickup of their produce in real time. Food brands can carry out and automate thorough checks digitally and record all parameters, while wholesalers can use bar codes and lot numbers, and add images to trace quality. Retailer or food processing companies can get a complete picture of their supply chain.

Customers: Growers, retailers, food services, wholesale traders

Why it’s an agritech start-up to watch: Intello Labs raised $5.9 million in funding last year. It is growing fast in India and also in global markets, including China, Southeast Asia, and the US, where its clients include Reliance Fresh and Dole.

Unnati

Year Founded: 2017

Headquarters: Noida

Co-founders & CEO: Ashok Prasad

What it does: Unnati provides farmers with information about their soil, the weather and their farming history, enabling them to make more informed decisions about their business. It also offers insights on sourcing and correctly applying chemicals and other inputs. Produce is then listed on Unnati’s platform, giving farmers access to a wide range of buyers. Unnati also offers a banking service to help farmers purchase production inputs and manage sales receivables like a business.

Competitors include: DeHaat, CropIn

Customers: Farmers, Agri-Input Brands, food processor companies, Agri-retailers

Why it’s an agritech start-up to watch: Unnati raised $1.7 million in funding last Octover. In a recent collaboration with Paytm, Unnati launched a new digital card linked to the payments platform to help farmers obtain their farm inputs digitally. With the use of this card, it is expected to increase the net income of farmers by reducing the cost of seed fertiliser without any collateral and getting better rates for farm produce they sell.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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