As per the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), India has a large portion of arable land that has been categorized into 15 agro-climatic zones. It means that we have almost all types of weather conditions and soil types for growing a large variety of crops. But despite this, our average crop productivity is very low. Our farmers still face problems with poor production and poor returns. Some major constraints that hamper the growth of Indian agriculture are poor infrastructure, low access to credit from organized creditors, low use of technology and mechanization, etc.
The future of Indian agriculture has always remained an important question for all the planners and stakeholders. However, with technology and innovation being the driving force behind India’s prosperity and with a large number of agritech startups coming into the picture, the future of Indian agriculture looks promising. Let’s dive deep into this.
How is agritech shaping India’s economy?
Agritech, a short form for agricultural technology is rapidly shaping India’s economy for a more progressive future. This sector holds a great significance because along with food, it also ensures jobs and contributes to the technological advancement of a country. It promotes the use of big data, Artificial Intelligence, robots, and other futuristic methods to solve the challenges that occur in the agriculture sector. With the use of technology in agriculture, crops can be grown in any environment, and there can be faster planting, better harvesting, and more reliable trading.
India’s agritech sector has risen considerably from a mere 43 startups in 2013 to over 1000 enterprises in 2020. Increased rural internet penetration has been one of the prominent reasons behind this. In fact, there has been an overwhelming amount of activity in the agritech sector recently. According to a study by Ernst & Young in 2020, the Indian agritech market has the potential to reach $24 billion by 2025 while according to another study by Bain & Company, it can reach $35 billion by 2025.
Agritech startup scenario in India
Recently, while addressing the third edition of “TechBharat” at CSIR-CFTRI in Mysuru (Karnataka), Union Minister Jitendra Singh said, “A new wave of agritech startups has come up in India in the last few years”. He also said, “Agri-tech startups are providing innovative ideas and affordable solutions to a number of challenges faced all across the agricultural value chain and it has the potential to change the face of the Indian agriculture sector and eventually raise farmers’ incomes.”
“Startups and budding entrepreneurs can become the missing link between the farmers, input dealers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers, connecting each of them to each other and providing strong marketing linkages and quality produce on time.”
If you look at the above chart you will observe that Karnataka and Maharashtra together account for almost 50% of the total agritech start-ups in India. These two major hubs are being followed by Delhi & NCR (9%), Haryana (9%), and Tamil Nadu (8%). It is interesting to note that although Gujarat has only a 7% share in agritech startups, as per State Startup Ranking Report 2018, it is the best-performing state in the Indian startup ecosystem.
Categorization of Indian agritech startups
Agritech startups are disrupting India’s farming landscape with a host of new and cutting-edge technologies. Agritech startups can be divided into various sub-sectors given below.
Big Data based agritech startups
A number of big data-based startups are working on developing data-driven diagnostics that can determine soil and crop health. This can help in improving the efficiency of farming and supply chains. Data analytics will provide decision-making support to farmers and other players in the supply chain.
Supply chain model startups
Innovations are required to help farmers with a timely and accurate estimation of sowing and harvesting. This estimation should also be in sync with consumer demand patterns. Supply chain or market linkage model startups optimize the two critical ends of a supply chain (input and output) for solutions that can preserve the quality, improve shelf-life, reduce waste and ensure efficient aggregation, storage, and transportation, etc.
Likewise, Bijak which was founded in 2019 is building a one-stop e-marketplace for agri-traders including commodity suppliers, mandi aadathis, and other institutional buyers. It is used by agri-traders in 27 Indian states and territories. The platform oversees trade in over 150 commodities. Bijak enables efficient pan-India trade by solving real-life trading problems such as counterparty discovery, timely payments, business exposure, etc. Bijak team carries out rigorous verification processes to ensure that only trustworthy suppliers and buyers are onboarded on the agri commodity trading app. These traders get the right visibility and support that they need to expand their business.
Farming-as-a-Service (FaaS) startups
Farming as a service (FaaS) was brought to India by a company named EM3 Agri Services. It offered farming services and machinery rentals to farmers on a pay-for-use basis. The concept has now become common and many other agriculture equipment leasing and farm services startups have joined the space.
IoT enabled agritech startups
These startups provide smart farming methods such as high-precision crop control, data collection, and automated farming techniques that help in removing inefficiencies and improving productivity. Information on crop yields, rainfall patterns, pest infestation, etc. can contribute to improving farming techniques over time.
Engineering-led Innovation Startups
Even though India is the largest manufacturer of tractors globally, less than 2% of the country’s farmers use machines. Agritech startups in this category provide cost-effective and smart mechanisation solutions to small and marginal farmers to counter the lack of good technology and increasing labour costs.
Miscellaneous Agritech Startups
Startups based under this category are providing innovative and unique solutions in developing agro-based products, better dairy, poultry, or fish farming methods, providing advisory services, and creating one-stop solutions for farmers involved in secondary agriculture.
We hope this article has given you enough insights into how agritech is going to dominate the agriculture world in the future. If you liked this article, share your comments below. Don’t forget to follow us to get all the latest updates on the Bijak blog. Bijak is India’s most trusted agri-trading app that enables suppliers and buyers of agricultural produce to discover each other across new markets. Bijak also provides working capital limit to agri-traders that help these traders increase their business revenues exponentially. You can download our app from Google Playstore and Apple App Store