“Agriculture is not cropped production as popular belief holds – it’s the production of food and fibre from the world’s land and waters. Without agriculture, it is not possible to have a city, stock market, banks, university, church or army. Agriculture is the foundation of civilization and any stable economy,” opines Allan Savory, venerated ecologist, livestock farmer and environmentalist. The future of agriculture, to a large extent, depends on the various technology startups that work to bolster growth across the farm to fork life cycle.
This especially holds true for India, where more than 58% of the rural population depends on agriculture and allied activities for sustenance. According to an IBEF report, in FY17, agriculture likely accounted for over $1,640 Bn (INR 1.11 Tn) of the country’s GDP. Agritech startups alone raised nearly $313 Mn funding in India during 2016.
To help fledgling startups navigate through the myriad challenges plaguing the farm to fork life cycle, Inc42, in collaboration with Mistletoe, is inviting applicants for a one-of-a-kind “Farm To Fork” event to be held in Bengaluru on September 13, 2017.
As part of the event, ten shortlisted startups working across the farm to fork lifecycle will be offered the opportunity to pitch themselves before an audience of 100 – including investors, policy makers, entrepreneurs and industry stalwarts in this space.
What Is Farm To Fork And What Will It Entail?
Despite increased investment opportunities, startups operating in different areas of the food cycle right from farmers to suppliers to distributors, till the food finally reaches the end consumer, currently have to meander their way through a multitude of challenges in order to gain traction in India. Lack of awareness about the use of tech and the burgeoning potential it provides, especially among farmers, is a major obstacle hindering the industry’s growth.
We, at Inc42, firmly believe in the power of discourse when it comes to spreading awareness. To that end, we hosted an AgriTech Investors Roundtable on May 25, 2017, in Delhi. The panel discussions – which were held by Ritu Verma, co-founder and MD at Ankur Capital; Hemendra Mathur, Venture Partner at Bharat Innovations Fund; and Vikram Gupta of IvyCap Ventures – focussed on the challenges, emerging technologies and opportunities in the country’s agricultural sector.
In the “Farm To Fork” event, we look to take the discussion one step further by surveying the various sub-sectors in the ‘farm to fork’ pipeline that is exciting for investors. How agriculture is getting a boost with the use of a data-driven approach and, lastly, why India still needs a sustainable support system to promote technology innovations in agriculture. In addition to exploring the road ahead, the conference will attempt to unravel the nuances of the evolving industry, from the perspective of founders as well as investors investing in the farm to fork life cycle.
Why Do We Need Such An Event?
Agriculture forms the backbone of the Indian economy. Boasting 157.35 Mn hectares of agricultural land, the country currently ranks second globally, in terms of farm output. The sector has witnessed structured growth in recent times as a result of technological advances, increased investment and congenial government policies, including schemes like Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, Pradhanmantri Gram Sinchai Yojana and Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.
For instance, in the 2017-18 Union Budget, the total allocation for agricultural and allied sectors increased by more than 24% to around $28.1 Bn (INR 1,87,233 Cr). According to the Department of Industry Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the country’s agricultural services and machinery industry received over $2,315.33 Mn in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) between April 2000 and December 2016.
In a bid to double the average farmer’s income by 2022, the Indian government, under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, is increasingly looking for ways to bolster agricultural production through the integration of latest technologies and innovation. This is chiefly where startups come in.
Relying primarily on the power of technology, these startups work towards developing highly-inventive solutions to a number of agriculture-related problems, like how to increase crop production; how to improve the nutritional value of crops; and how to reduce input prices incurred by farmers, and even managing how to sell. Through the use of drones, robotics, big data, sensors and farm management software, startups in this segment strive to decrease wastage in the distribution system and also enhance connectivity between farmers (producers) and consumers.
The Farm to Fork event will bring together 100 key stakeholders in the ‘farm to fork’ ecosystem including investors, entrepreneurs and ecosystem enablers in India. The half-day event is focussed on discussing the key challenges faced by these startups. Besides this, the event will also bring together the top investors in this segment who will be discussing key investment trends and where they are planning to place their bets on in the coming times.
As a part of the “Farm To Fork” event, we are also inviting applications from startups working across the farm to fork life cycle, who will be given the floor to pitch their grand ideas before a panel of experts, investors and policy makers.
Who Can Apply?
- If your startup has been operational for at least one year and less than five years.
- If your startup has not raised more than $2 Mn in funding.
- If your startup is registered in India or founded in India and has operations in India.
- If it falls under the seven sectors mentioned below:
- Farming-As-A-Service (FaaS): This category includes startups that offer farm machinery on rent. The sector is also inhabited by companies that provide agricultural storage and warehousing services.
- Big Data And Analytics: These startups offer farm-specific, data-driven analytics services to farmers, geared towards enhancing the efficacy of agricultural, financial, operational as well as decision-making processes. Players in this space rely on Big Data analytics to uncover essential information about market trends, patterns, the efficiency of techniques and so on.
- Hardware/Machinery: Startups manufacturing farm equipment and other related products fall in this category. These startups rely on technological innovations to build new products aimed at improving farm efficiency.
- Support And Decision Making Services: This sector includes startups that use SaaS and IoT-related technologies to simplify the task of decision-making. By leveraging cloud computing, machine learning and Big Data, these companies serve farmers, commodity traders, governments as well as seed and pesticide enterprises by delivering clear decision points.
- Online Networks: Started primarily to improve the connectivity of farmers, these startups attempt to bring the country’s farming population under the digital ‘halo.’ In other words, these companies help farmers in remote areas connect with experts, investors and other farmers.
- Internet Of Things (IoT) & Robotics: As the name suggests, this category includes startups that develop IoT and robotics (as in drones) for application in the agriculture sector.
- Marketplace For Buying And Selling: Under this category, startups can be divided into two main heads: online marketplaces that allow farmers to purchase farming related products and services, and platforms that connect farmers to retail chains/direct consumers for selling farm fresh produce.
Backed by investors and a robust startup ecosystem, the government is aggressively looking to capitalise on the market’s potential. In such a climate, there is a need for intelligent, data-driven discourse that would help increase awareness and also dispel some of the misconceptions surrounding the space. With the “Farm To Fork” event, Inc42 hopes to take this discourse beyond just the farmers and policy makers to the emerging class of startups, investors and problem-solvers.
To participate in the “Farm To Fork” event to be held in Bengaluru on September 13, 2017, startups operating in the farm to fork life cycle are requested to submit their applications before September 7, 2017! Interested participants can apply here