India’s still nascent agritech industry saw new funding when startup Gramophone raised USD 3.5 million in Series A funding from a group of investors including Infoedge, Asha Impact, and Better Capital among others.
Gramophone was set up in 2016 by Indian Institute of Technology alumni. Its app provides personalized solutions to farmers during the crop cycle. Their app addresses major pain points faced by farmers such as crop diseases, soil testing, and weather information. The startup’s latest prototype uses artificial technology and machine learning to identify crop diseases based on images shared by the farmer. Farmers can also order agriculture hardware and seeds through the app.
According to the startup, their personalized insights have helped reduced an average of 15-20% in cultivation cost and an average increase of 30-40% in yield. The company has served 250,000 farmers in remote villages of central India. In 2018, it raised USD 1 million in angel from Infoedge.
In a country where more than half of the population depends on agriculture, agritech startups have managed to use new-age technology to resolve India’s agrarian problem at the grassroots level. This year, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) announced a USD 100 million fund that will focus on equity investment in food, agriculture, and rural development sector.
According to a 2018 report by Inc42, total funding in India’s agritech startups grew from USD 46 million in 2017 to USD 66 million in 2018. Then again, the funding is relatively sparse – despite investor interest in innovative farm solutions – when compared with startups operating in sectors such as e-commerce (USD 2.18 billion), healthtech (USD 504 million) and enterprise tech (USD 775 million).
Multinational retail chain Walmart is also in talks to infuse USD 50 million into B2B fresh produce supply chain startup Ninjacart. Previously, Ninjacart raised about USD 90 million in April from investment firm Tiger Global. The startup has received USD 140 million in funding so far.
Among other recent funding, DeHaat, an online marketplace for farmers, raised USD 4.2 million in March from impact venture fund Omnivore and agritech-focused venture capital platform AgFunder; one-year-old FreshVnF also raised USD 2 million in a round led by VC firm Equanimity Ventures. As the case stands, agritech is an untapped potential for investors and entrepreneurs alike to address India’s agricultural woes.
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