Agri Business

VCs eyeing agri-tech opportunity

Priyanka Pani Mumbai | Updated on January 12, 2018

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Thanks to government initiatives and innovation, investment in the sector is likely to double this year, say experts

Venture capital (VC) funds are sowing into the agri-tech segment, hoping to reap windfall gains. VC funding in the agri-related tech segment more than tripled to $295 million in 2016 from $94 million in 2015, according to data from Tracxn, a research platform for private market investors.

Experts are of the view that this year investments in this sector will more than double on the back of various government initiatives, which have prompted private sector companies to enter this space.

This year so far the sector has already got about $87 million in investments. RML Agtech, Ugaoo.com, Crofarm, Paalak.in, FarMart, agrostar and seedworks are among 28 start-ups that have received funding. About 105 came up in this segment last year.

Experts say investors are closely watching the space and are likely to write bigger cheques for start-ups focussing on areas such as farm-as-a-service, big data, easy credit for farmers, developing solutions for better monsoon prediction, analysing soil quality, farm automation, supply chain innovations, and farm equipment.

Siddhant Bhalinge, founder of Ugaoo.com, told BusinessLine: “The entire world is dependent on agriculture ... and this industry sees constant innovation in order to evolve and supply the ever increasing demand of feeding the population.”

He said that new technologies such as hydroponics (the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil), aeroponics (the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment), seed breeding using marker assists and genetic enhancements, soil improvement systems, and mechanised systems for harvesting and sowing would shape up the sector this year.

Rajiv Tevtiya, founder of RML AgTech, a Mumbai-based start-up, said the company uses predictive analysis to help farmers increase productivity by advising them to grow the most profitable crop or suggest the most profitable mandi to sell the crop.

With this it also helps reduce farmers’ production costs by 20-30 per cent. RML Agtech raised ₹40 crore from IvyCap Ventures recently.

The potential in the agri-tech segment has also attracted many big conglomerates such as Mahindra Group and Godrej along with individuals, including Nandan Nilkeni

While the Godrej Group has set up a $50 million fund to invest in agri-tech start-ups, Mahindra Group has invested in Trringo, a platform that helps farmers rent farm and agri equipment.

Nilekani, along with Accel Partners and Qualcomm Ventures, has invested ₹37 crore in Ninjacart, a B2B agri-marketing platform for farmers.

Published on May 28, 2017

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