Booming agritech sector aims at solving supply chain woes

A farmer walks on the embankment of agricultural paddy field as he is heading towards his field.   | Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

With Indian farmers facing post harvest losses amounting to a whopping ₹93,000 crore, a slew of agritech start-ups are now trying to bridge that gap with demand driven cold chains, warehouse monitoring solutions and market linkages that can significantly boost farmer income.

According to a new study from Information technology industry body NASSCOM, these efforts to create supply chain efficiency are the focus of more than 50% of India’s booming agritech industry, which has received 300% more funding in the first half of 2019 than in the whole of 2018.

In its report “Agritech In India: Emerging Trends in 2019” released this week, NASSCOM noted that India is home to more than 450 startups in the agriculture technology sector, of the global total of about 3,100.

Year-on-year growth in India has been at a rate of 25%.

With regards to funding, the start-ups received 10 times more money in 2017-18 than in 2013-14. Over the same period, funding for global start-ups only doubled. Corporates and investors are playing a vital role with over $200 million in the last 18 months coming for B2B start-ups, with technology innovations that are aimed directly at the farmer.

Produce going waste

According to government data, post-harvest losses are highest in the fruit and vegetable sector with as much as 16% of produce going waste. Some of the biggest agritech deals have been aimed at addressing this issue, creating direct market linkages through digital platforms such as Ninjacart and Crofarm.

These could support evolving business areas such as farm to fork, or direct delivery of produce from farmers to hotels, restaurants and cafes. Other innovations include image sensing for quality grading, storage monitoring based on the Internet of Things and the digitisation of mandis, as well as farmer producer organisations.

Technology solutions

Other start-ups offer technology solutions to increase crop productivity, using big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence and remote sensing to improve land management, crop cycle monitoring and harvest traceability. Another group aims at solving farmers’ credit issues, providing low cost and timely financing for agricultural equipment and allowing access to low cost digital loans using virtual credit cards.

“India’s agriculture sector is advancing steadily towards its digital transformation and the start-up ecosystem is playing a critical role here, bringing innovation and disruption in much-needed areas,” says NASSCOM president Debjani Ghosh. “Adoption of technology in agriculture has always needed a structured institutional focus and technology firms are trying to break into the agricultural landscape using newer business models.”

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 11:05:39 AM |

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