Agri Business

Agritech start-up launches ready-to-implement micro farms

Subramani Ra Mancombu Chennai | Updated on September 20, 2021

Chennai-based Aqgromalin also comes up with app to supply day-old chicks, quality inputs

Chennai-based agritech start-up Aqgromalin has come up with “ready-to-implement micro farms” that can be started with very little space and investment.

Aqgromalin, which recently raised ₹5.5 crore in seed funding led by Zephyr Peacock India Growth fund, a provider of growth capital to start-ups in India, also supplies day-old chicks – including ducks and desi birds – through its app AQAI to farmers. The app helps in supplying high quality inputs for poultry and animal husbandry farmers.

“We find that ready-to-implement micro farms has become a very useful tool for women farmers to contribute to the household income. As the investment and space requirement is low, we have had more farmers take this up in addition to the existing activities,” said Prasanna Manogaran, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of the firm. Besides, it is not a labour intensive initiative and therefore, can be easily implemented.

Aiding diversification

Aqgromalin, which also received funds from IndigramLabs Foundation in the latest round and other noted angels from the agri start-up ecosystem, is involved in helping farmers diversify into animal husbandry and aquaculture segments. “These ready-to-implement micro farms have come in handy for such purposes,” he said.

Along with Manogaran, CL Bharani co-founded the start-up two years ago conceptualising it as a farm-to-fork-model to bring farmers closer to consumers and businesses. “But as we started working with a significant number of farmers, we felt that there were significant opportunities where we could effectively contribute to create a better impact on increasing the income to farmers,” said the Aqgromalin CEO, who in 2008 started an edtech firm Axion.

AQAI app

Manogaran said that AQAI app can help farmers order a variety of input materials for animal husbandry. “Traders, poultry meat shops and exporters can get hygienically grown produce from the business section in the app (for trading),” he added.

The animal husbandry and aquaculture sectors in India are underserved and highly fragmented. “Livestock farmers face various issues including limited availability of quality inputs, lack of quality feed, and lack of access to markets. At Aqgromalin, we are building a one-stop end-to-end solutions platform to help farmers overcome these issues,” says Manogaran.

A major reason for the start-up to look at this sector is because the value chain for livestock farming activities is fragmented and lacks transparency in the country. The activities include poultry farming, cattle farming, aquaculture and insect farming.

“Indian livestock farmers face challenges in procurement of inputs and sale of output produce, resulting in unpredictable incomes. Aqgromalin is pioneering the delivery of tech-enabled services to this sector. The company provides tech-driven solutions to farmers to help augment their farm income by organising supply of input and marketing output,” the firm’s CEO said.

Focus on backyard poultry

Aqgromalin works both on the upstream and downstream of the farm gate through a full stack tech solution. “Farmers can order high quality inputs via AQAI app and get it delivered to their farmgate. Post-harvest, our downstream trading platform enables farmers to exit the produce through our network of traders, retailers (meat and fish stalls), and exporters,” he said.

The Chennai-based firm’s main focus is backyard poultry (desi breeds), fresh water and brackish water aquaculture, goat and sheep.

Besides the recent funding, Aqgromalin has raised close to ₹2 crore from some angel investors in West Asia. “Having external investors believe in your vision and become part of the journey is always exciting for an entrepreneur,” said Manogaran.

The start-up founder said that the ever-rising demand for protein-rich poultry meat and associated products has made poultry farming “one of the most profitable businesses today”.

Fastest growing sector

“Some even consider it as the fastest growing sector of the Indian economy. The spirit of poultry farming is so good that its growth did not waver even during Covid. It is the fastest growing sector with 16-17 per cent growth. analysis basis,” Manogaran said.

Farmers are getting access to desi birds, whose market value is high in view of their better yield and profits. The market sentiment is also improving due to dietary benefits, he said, adding, “Our AQAI app is accelerating the marketing option of these poultry segment birds.”

Desi poultry has enormous potential in improving incomes of farmers across the country. We believe that the right tech and supply chain infrastructure would accelerate the market for these products across the country. AQAI is in the forefront of this disruption,” Manogaran said.

Aquaculture, goats, sheep, freshwater and brackish water shrimp and mud crabs are other sectors that have good potential. “With multiple advantages such as increased food production, restoration of threatened, endangered species populations, and habitat restoration, Aquaculture is a great method of farming. It is both economically and environmentally beneficial,” he added.

Published on September 20, 2021

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