Omnivore, an agritech venture capital firm, said it is setting up a new $150 million fund to be invested in tech-driven, predictive crop insights that can help improve productivity and profitability for farmers in India.
The VC firm would start raising its new fund towards the end of this year and would have another $132 million invested in various agritech ventures in the country by 2023. It already invested in 30 agritech start-ups and these ventures in turn are touching the lives of around 10 million farmers in the country.”The fund will take care of our needs for four years,” Mark Kahn, managing partner told The Hindu. “We have been seeing an acceleration in technology adoption in agriculture and expect this to continue.’’
Fasal, one of the Omnivore-invested firms, developed an IoT-based and AI-powered precision farming platform for horticulture crops. Interestingly, banana farmers in Jalgaon, grape farmers in Nasik and coffee farmers in Coorg claim to be currently benefiting from this platform.
Among other portfolio companies, ReshaMandi works with silk farmers in Karnataka and DeHaat works with 6 lakh farmers across Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.
Space start-up Pixxel is another Omnivore-backed firm that proposes to use hyperspectral satellites to capture valuable data sets which in turn helps tackle problems like predicting harvests, natural disasters and tracking the presence and spread of pests, etc.
According to Mr. Kahn, access to the Internet, rural connectivity, affordable smartphones and the availability of technology have slowly started favourably impacting the lives and incomes of farmers in the country.
For instance, direct sourcing of farm produce is catching up rapidly with BigBazaar, Amazon, BigBasket, Freshtohome, Reliance Fresh, JioMart and Ninjacart, and many others have already roped in thousands of farmers across the country.
“Increasing the yield and making farmers profitable is the only way forward for farming in India,” he added.
Indian agriculture has been a hotbed for VCs in the last couple of years. Some 600 agritech ventures cumulatively raised about $400 million in the last two years, as per industry estimates. Amazon India recently announced a $250 million venture fund and a portion of it has been earmarked for technology innovations in agriculture.