Agriculture is one of the most hyped yet untapped sectors with an immense potential to change the current standards of the Indian economy. For long, Indian farmers, who represent a 24.6% (per se Census 2011) of the total workforce of over 481 Mn in the country, has been considered the most vulnerable to nature calamities and corrupt middlemen.
But it seems that the time has come to make a 360-degree change with this perception and experiential knowledge. With the Indian government committed to the goal of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022, several Indian agritech startups and ecosystem enablers including investors, incubators and accelerators have come forward to help India regain its status of being the ‘Golden Bird’ (sone ki chidiya), using new age technologies such as AI, Big Data, ML and more. One such technology-based incubator is New Delhi-based Indigram Labs.
As mentioned in an earlier coverage on Indiagram Labs by Inc42, it is working with a vision to promote creativity and innovation in agriculture, renewable energy and rural healthcare industry. Indigram, as a group, has been around for over 18 years and has promoted, incubated as well as exited multiple ventures in these years.
The incubator aims at fostering and nurturing viable business ideas through the process of consulting, mentoring, prototype creation, leveraging technology tie-ups and access to platforms that yield the stated results.
The duration of the incubation period ranges from three to five years. Currently, it is incubating 17 companies
Looking at the myriad portfolios of Indigram’s agritech incubatees, we at Inc42 thought of collating the unique 10, which are bringing innovation and creativity to the Indian agritech stage, thereby fostering a sustainable startup ecosystem in this sector.
Founder(s): Anurag Agarwal, Akash Agarwal
Founded In: 2012
Technology / Product Developed: Refrigeration System powered by Farm Waste
New Leaf designs and manufactures GreenCHILL – an off-grid, compressor-free, renewable energy-based refrigeration system. GreenCHILL is powered by farm-waste such as biogas, cow dung cakes, biomass pellets, wood, and hay, and allows safe and sustainable cooling of perishables (e.g. fish, fruit, vegetables, flowers, etc.) at the village or farm level before transport to a market or to a processing facility.
GreenCHILL can cool 1,500 liters of milk or up to 30 metric tons of perishables without the need for grid power or diesel generator backup. To date, New Leaf has commissioned twelve units in the states of Gujarat, Assam, Orissa, and Uttrakhand.
Founder(s): Milan Sharma, Nishant Mishra
Founded In: 2016
Technology / Product Developed: AI-based deep-tech solution for Crop Inspection and Agricultural Products Grading
Intello Lab’s Crop Inspection technology reads image and gives parameters identifying the disease. It further helps determine the symptoms or cause of the disease and recommends how that disease can be cured or prevented. Agricultural Products Grading, on the other hand, identifies grains, their count and approximate weight (using deep learning models), reads image and gives quality parameters as well as recommends the price of the grain.
They leverage the most advanced analytics tools and techniques – such as Deep Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data – to develop these products. Intello Labs is recognised as a de-facto business for expert AI capability in solutions that satisfy the real-world challenges in the near real time.
Founder(s): Bhushan Jambhekar, Panini Jambhekar
Founded In: 2014
Technology/ Product Developed: Agri-inputs Based On Sanjeevan System of Agriculture
Vasumitra has developed a unique concept of farming – ‘Sanjeevan System of Agriculture’. Claimed to be based on 25 years of exhaustive research, the system is utilising energy management principles of the Vedas. It focusses on attaining a balance between self-protection and self-nutrition energies of the plants to maximise output using minimum inputs.
As of now, a total of 27 products have been developed based on the Sanjeevan System of Agriculture. Their main categories of products include organic manures, trigger products, crop protection products and ionic fertilisers.
Founder(s): Bremley Ibadaphunshisha Blah, Ladamon Blah
Founded In: 2017
Technology/ Product Developed: Blossom Honey
Sainhun in Khasi means ‘to create to your heart’s content’. The startup works with the mission of becoming a centre of excellence for honey and honey by-products by serving as a pilot for locally relevant apiculture training to the rural youth. At the same time, it also aims to enable local economic growth in the rural and semi-urban sectors by mobilising farmers to form honey producer groups whereby Blossom Enterprise, which produces its flagship product ‘Blossom Honey’, will make agreements to buy back their raw honey.
The Blossom brand is currently looking to enter the luxury health food market and is targeting the upper-middle class consumers in the major metropolitan cities.
The SVPL is also working towards mobilising hands-on training for the rural and semi-urban youths on scientific beekeeping, carpentry skills for hive making, candle making from beeswax and making medicinal and beauty products.
Founder(s): Bharat Chandra
Founded In: 2015
Technology/ Product Developed: ‘HUGA’ – High Protein Ice Cream
The startup operates under the brand name ‘HUGA’ and aims to disrupt the ice cream sector by the addition of nutritional properties to it. The team believes in making indulgent food healthy and nutritious as well as make it taste better than ever. Their mission is to allow the consumer to indulge in the best ice cream without compromising on the health as well as taste fronts.
HUGA presently delivers high protein (whey protein), low added sugar, rich in fibre and prebiotic ice creams as a standard offering. HUGA is in the phase of commercialisation.
Founder(s): Siddharth Singh, Atul Chauhan
Founded In: 2014
Technology/ Product Developed: Daily2Home – A fruits and vegetables supply chain optimisation platform
The company currently operates under the brand name Daily2Home. An end-to-end fruits and vegetable supply chain company, Daily2Home caters to 40 institutional and 200 retail customers via four retail outlets and seven delivery vehicles on a daily basis. Together, these units handle 1.5 tons of produce procured from over 50 farmers and 15 hectares of its own production facility.
Daily2Home has partnered with FIFA which enables it to procure from thousands of farmers all over India, thus bypassing the mandi and creating value for both the parties. Daily2Home sells both to institutional customers and household customers through a network of retail stores and doorstep delivery, with delivery times that are 50% lesser than the industry average.
Founder(s): Ravi Sharma, Deepak Verma
Founded In: 2017
Technology/ Product Developed: Tech Platform For Rural Entrepreneurs
Ag-Innovate has created a network of rural entrepreneurs and enables them with a credit and tech platform to provide value-added services at the source to farmers. This network will allow farmers to have higher realisation for farm produce and move to demand-led agriculture.
In simple terms, Krishilok team intend to increase farmers income by creating an ecosystem around them, through which they can avail services that would increase the value of the farm produce.
Founder(s): Pradeep Dwivedi
Founded In: 2013
Technology/ Product Developed: Organic Groceries, Beverages and Snacks Maker
Nutrelis has been working with small and marginal farmers in various parts of India. The startup has tie-ups with manufactures and markets various certified organic products all across the globe. It cultivates, process, manufacture, and market certified organic pulses, cereals, herbs, spices, oilseeds, dry fruits and other products.
The startup also aims to support the environment, by promoting sustainable organic agriculture and protects the bio-diversity of the earth, while supporting few thousands of marginal farmers and tribal communities in rural India. Besides specialising in the manufacturing activity, it is also processing & packing different type of products as well as doing private labeling for few companies in their brand.
Founders: Balaji K., Dr. Karthikeyan R.
Founded In: 2016
Technology/ Product Developed: Sonars for an efficient and informed way of catching fish
INCEVE is committed to bringing world-class Sonars for an efficient and informed way of catching fish. The platform aims to add technology to fisherman’s mundane task, thereby automating their routine process, get right kind of information and effectively help them in catching fish in the easiest, time-saving and in a cost-effective manner.
It offers a Fishtracker – that uses digital signal processing techniques to examine all echoes and identify any echoes that look like large individual fish and all INCEVE electronics sonars are available in DUALSCAN configuration. This improves both navigation and fish detection.
The startup further plans to provide assistance in education courses such as Fisheries management and also have Navigation line of Sonars for Navigation purposes.
Founder(s): Sarang Nerkar
Founded In: 2017
Technology/ Product Developed: A Wearable Plant Phenomics Device
Innosapiens is developing a wearable plant phenomics device for pre-detection of pests, diseases and deficiencies in plants. The device when ready will be able to detect pests, diseases, and deficiencies 10-15 days prior to any physical damage to the plant. The technology is still in development.
In the Union Budget 2018, the Indian government made it vividly clear that it is committed to working towards improving the farmers’ income. However, as they say, ‘a lone gram cannot bust the oven’. Today, India is in dire need of agritech incubators such as Indigram Labs, which can not only provide a support infrastructure for the startups, but can also help nurture a sustainable agriculture ecosystem.
As per Inc42 DataLabs funding report 2017, the agritech sector in India witnessed some 17 deals with $46 Mn being invested in 2017. Despite the impressive numbers, most startups are still gasping for Seed funds at early stage to grow beyond the prototype stage and reach the commercialisation stage.
In such a scenario, the Indigram Lab incubatees have received a timely aid to scale ahead in the $4.55 Bn agritech opportunity in India. How well these startups are able to cash in on this opportunity is something to watch out for in the near future.
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