India’s agri-tech play could potentially be a chunky $170 billion but it’s been slow going. Entrepreneurs of all hues have been working in the field for several years now but haven’t managed to make too much headway. Now the pain caused by the pandemic — a shortage of inputs, lack of transport and mobility — seems to have convinced some farmers of the need to use more technology. Also with consumers now willing to spend a lot more on healthy foods that have less chemical content farmers too seem willing to try out technology to make their produce healthier.
Sateesh Nukala, co-founder & CEO at BigHaat points out that with internet penetration in the rural areas patchy, farmers were initially reluctant to go digital. “But the lockdown necessitated farmers use our services and now they are clearly seeing the value proposition,” Nukala told FE.
Transactions on the platform have increased five-fold post Covid. This company will soon help fund farmers who purchase agri inputs on the online marketplace. Nukala says about four million farmers today are accessing the blogs published by the firm for information.
For Gramophone, customer acquisition costs at the agri-tech start-up have declined by 40% and marketing budgets have reduced significantly, co-founder & CEO Tauseef Khan told FE. The customer base has nearly doubled to six lakh in less than a year and the company is expecting to end the year with more than 10 lakh farmers on the platform. The company recently launched a marketplace to connect farmers with potential buyers of their produce. It is also working to introduce loans to its customers.
Thirukumaran Nagarajan, CEO & co-founder at Ninjacart, observes that farmers need precision farming data, better end-to-end linkages and farm management services to increase output from existing land through active monitoring and accurate predictions. “Supply chain strategies implemented pre-Covid world can no longer be relied upon,” says Nagarajan.
Ananda Prakash Verma’s Fasal provides technology that not only helps farmers manage and monitor their farm remotely but also helps them produce healthy food. The Bengaluru-based firm services the horticulture segment by installing IoT sensor devices in the farms. It recently launched Fasal Kranti, a more sophisticated device that can be self-deployed by farmers without any hand-holding.