In 2022, agri-focused venture capital firm Omnivore invested in six new start-ups such as Krishify, Agrizy and Loopworm among others. Omnivore, which has invested approximately ₹800 crore so far in Indian agri start-ups, also did many more follow-on rounds into existing portfolio companies during the year. The year 2022 saw some cooling off in valuations versus the frenzy of 2020 and 2021, but the agritech sector still continued to grow significantly, Mark Kahn, Co-founder and managing partner Omnivore tells businessline. Excerpts:
How was the year 2022 for the Indian agritech?
It was undoubtedly a good year for the agritech start-up ecosystem. The Government of India’s ongoing strategic support, increasing awareness among investors about opportunities across agricultural value chains, and a new wave of experienced entrepreneurs starting up in agritech mostly insulated this sector from global shocks.
Did the Indian agritech perform as per the expectations during the year?
Certainly 2022 saw some cooling off in valuations versus the frenzy of 2020 and 2021, but the agritech sector still continued to grow significantly. At its core, India’s agritech sector strives to better the lives of 130 million farmers and rural communities through breakthrough innovations. Entrepreneurs are solving real problems in India’s rural economy, and investors are stepping forward to be a part of the solution. On its current trajectory, agritech will create a $34-billion market by 2027, and 2022 was a great step forward.
What is the outlook for the new year?
In 2023, we expect agritech innovations in three areas to gain momentum — agri deeptech, agrifood life sciences (AFLS), and rural fintech. The digitally literate next billion is eager for affordable agritech innovations, and we can see entrepreneurs responding to this demand with solutions tailored for smallholders.
On the other hand, while agrifood life sciences is a more nascent space, given India’s significant climate vulnerability, there is an urgent need to support entrepreneurs here. Our OmniX Bio initiative is a step in that direction, backing early-stage agrifood life science startups working in agricultural biotechnology, novel farming systems, bioenergy and biomaterials, as well as innovative foods, including alternative protein.
Finally, the rural fintech domain struggles with lack of well-designed products, inadequate credit, and the absence of smart metrics to establish creditworthiness. Rural fintech innovations are critical to ensure easy access to formal financial services for farmers.
What was the highlight of 2022? Any interesting trends you saw during the year?
In 2022, Omnivore saw multiple follow-on rounds in our portfolio companies, many of which have scaled massively, including DeHaat, Arya, Reshamandi, and Stellapps. We, likewise, delivered the first large exit in Indian agritech, selling Eruvaka to Nutreco, a Dutch animal nutrition multinational. Regarding overall trends, we see increasing numbers of agritech start-ups focused on climate challenges, and recently backed Varaha as our first bet linked to smallholder carbon credits.